General Solly Shoke, the country’s top soldier, is to be commended for his initiative in setting up a trust to assist the dependents of soldiers killed or severely injured during operations.
In just over three months it has raised more than R4 million, with major contributions coming from two of the country’s glamour football clubs – Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates. A recent function hosted by Shoke in the country’s military capital of Thaba Tshwane saw another R2 million plus either donated or pledged to the fledgling trust.
The SA Police Service is going the same route and has already started disbursing from the SAPS Education Trust to the children of police killed in the line of duty.
Indications are that about 100 soldiers have either died or been badly injured or wounded in the execution of their duties since democracy. Until now they have not had any extra financial assistance from the State and this still does not appear to be forthcoming, making Shoke’s initiative all the more worthwhile.
The SANDF Education Trust is administered and run by soldiers of the calibre of Major General Roy Andersen, without any government involvement. This is good and means funds will go to where they are most needed as well as minimising possible interference with an eye to skulduggery.
Overall, the Trust is another indicator of Shoke’s oft-spoken words that “being a soldier is not a job, it’s a calling” and he is doing whatever he can to ensure a better future for those left behind when a breadwinner is killed or cannot follow his or her calling due to injury.
One wonders how long it will be before some of South Africa’s other well-off sporting franchises step up to the plate and join their footballing counterparts in supporting the Trust.