South African Post Office reveals SA Air Force collective heritage postage stamps


The South African Post Office has handed over a commemorative stamp album to Chief of the SA Air Force (SAAF) Lieutenant General Fabian Zimpande Msimang, as the SAAF gets a new postage stamp series.

The SAAF formed part of an Aviation in South Africa stamp series in 1993 and in 1995 a commemorative stamp was released, but this is the first time a full series of SAAF stamps has been created. The commemorative stamps were supposed to be launched on 9 May around the time of the Swartkop Air Show but this was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Although the stamps have not yet been printed, the Post Office made an album entitled ‘SAAF 2020 Embracing Our Collective Heritage Commemorative Stamp Issue,’ and this was gifted to Msimang ahead of his retirement on 30 September.

The handover took place at the SAAF College on 25 September in what the SAAF described as the culmination of over 16 months of collaboration between the Department of Telecommunications and Postal Service’s (DTPS) Philatelic Section and the SA Air Force Museum.

The preview of the SA Air Force stamps was presented to Msimang by the Acting Officer Commanding the SA Air Force Museum, Major Ntokozo Ntshangase. The preview contained the laser prints of the stamp sheet and the two First Day Cover envelopes.

Ntshangase explained that “this is a milestone in the history of the SA Air Force. For the first time the SA Air Force will have a full series of stamps”. The stamps showcase a combination of historical flights and the current aircraft in the SA Air Force. Furthermore, each stamp represents a particular era and event or operation the aircraft participated in. As expected, the stamps will be printed under the theme, “Celebrating Our Collective Heritage”. According to the Museum Commander, this theme would have been employed in this year’s Museum Air Show.

In his acceptance speech, the Chief of the Air Force emphasised the role and importance of heritage in uniting society. He urged all in attendance to jealously guard and protect the Air Force’s Collective Heritage. “The stamps are a true testimony of the continuous work by the Museum staff to collect, restore and preserve our collective heritage”, he said. He cautioned members of the Air Force against taking for granted the trust bestowed to them by the Postal Service as the ambassadors of the country.

In a statement by Ms Thea Clemons from the Philatelic section, “all the processes in the preparation and production of stamps have been severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, causing all the stamps that were planned to be issued from July to November 2020 to run behind schedule. We estimate that stamps planned for issue in September will now only be available from the first quarter of 2021”. Stamp collectors will have to wait a little longer before they can buy these stamps.

She also explained that “the road of a stamp starts two years before the date of issue when proposals for stamp themes are received from members of the public. We receive between 30 and 80 proposals for stamps per year. These themes are evaluated by the Stamp Advisory Committee, whose members are appointed by the Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services. Between six and eight stamp themes are selected to be issued per year. The selected stamp themes are approved by the Post Office Board, after which it is sent to Parliament for approval”.