Armed Forces Day criticism unfounded – SANDF


The national defence force in the form of its Director: Corporate Communication has come out with guns blazing against those who criticised aspects of last week’s Armed Forces Day events in and around Cape Town.

A statement attributed to Brigadier General Mafi Mgobozi has it that “some sectors in society – those who are conceited and undermine gains made since the advent of democracy – will find or even fabricate issues to malign the good name of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF)”.

He gives the example of “an apartheid era image of a Ratel infantry fighting vehicle half-submerged underwater was falsely assigned as an SANDF vehicle with the writer suggesting it shows the disdain and incompetence of our soldiers to manage expensive state-of-the-art military hardware”.

That image was posted on social media in the wake of a Kwevoel Samil 100 sinking in the sand of Sunrise Beach. Mgobozi said recovery of the stranded vehicle was an opportunity for testing the operational readiness of the SANDF Technical Service Corps.

The week-long celebration also stood accused of damaging marine ecosystems and biodiversity in Western Cape.

Not so, maintains the brigadier general who said “city stakeholders dealing with these field of interest were consulted and all by-laws adhered to “with the necessary permissions and remedial measures provided”.

“The SANDF adheres to all laws of the land including environmental health and safety and animal welfare statutes. We have done this in all cities we have hosted AFD [Armed Forces Day], especially the coastal cities of Port Elizabeth and Durban with their vast marine life. The City of Cape Town was not going to be an exception.”

He also takes exception to “doomsayers who never wished us well, but faltered even where fairness does not warrant it”.

“It is at times unfortunate when criticism is presented in a condescending manner and borders on issues of race and politics – in ‘they and us’ kind of arguments a domain we as the armed forces are not empowered or interested in to navigate.

“The SANDF is an apolitical organisation passionate about serving the people and harbours no ambition to be embroiled in political machinations, either with politicians or civilians.

“Having said that, we commend the overwhelming support by residents of Cape Town and surrounding areas to making AFD 2019 a huge success.

“These residents commended the good work our men and women in uniform do and praised us for a magnificent display during Fan Park activities in Khayelitsha, Ship Open Days at the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront, the Night Shoot at Sunrise Beach as well as the ultimate parade and Capability Demonstration at Bloubergstrand with the President of the Republic of South Africa and Commander-in-Chief of the SANDF, President Ramaphosa officiating.

“The people of Cape Town came out in their numbers from diverse backgrounds – befitting of a true rainbow nation – to support their national defence force and that is affirmation enough for the great work the SANDF is doing,” the statement said.