Artisan “defensive clothing” coming for Works Formation

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Those tasked with ensuring military facilities are up to standard for their various intended purposes reside in the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) Works Formation which is reportedly soon going to sport “artisan’s defensive clothing”.

Formation General Officer Commanding (GOC), Major General David Nyangasya met formation regimental sergeant majors to present and recommend a standardised uniform for artisans in its ranks as part of a three-day workshop in the Free State.

The workshop, according to Corporal Khumo Segano, Works Formation photojournalist, was exclusively to display “distinctive types of artisan’s defensive clothing” in an attempt to finalise a standard uniform for all artisans under command.

On display at the workshop were golf-type shirts, some with high-visibility stripes; what used to be known as workman’s pants; and durable footwear.

There is no indication of what items shown were accepted or whether further presentations will be required before a decision is taken on an artisan “uniform”.

The SA Army used the November 2022 Exercise Vuk’uhlome to debut its new daily work dress to replace the long in-service camouflage uniform worn across the services and divisions.

The Works Formation came into being in April 2011 with its origins in the unhappiness of former SANDF chief and before that SA Army chief, Solly Shoke, with the lack of performance by the then Department of Public Works (DPW) as regards military facilities’ maintenance. Shoke resuscitated the land force’s Works Regiment which grew to a formation with units in each of South Africa’s nine provinces.

In April 2011 acting SANDF Chief Lieutenant General Themba Matanzima said the Formation would be utilised in facility maintenance, repairs and construction.

“This requires architects, civil engineers, estate managers, quantity surveyors, artisans, including electricians, carpenters, bricklayers, mechanics, wall and floor tilers as well as environmental managers, occupational health and safety managers and all the military command and management skills inherent in the military fraternity” he told those at the Formation launch event.

A year later the Formation unveiled a flag and emblem along with the regional units. All have flag designs associated with their respective provinces. As examples, Eastern Cape flag features an elephant, Northern Cape the Kimberly diamond, North West a mealie, Limpopo a baobab tree, Mpumalanga a kudu, Western Cape grapes, Free State a cheetah paw print and Gauteng a bee.

The Formation headquarters unit has crossed swords at the apex of its emblem putting it in line with all SANDF formation headquarters.

The central elements of the Works Formation flag reflect its functions. The spade for earthworks and construction; the pickaxe was inspired by the dolabra of the ancient Roman legions, used not only to dig but also to fell trees and shape timber for camp construction and fortification; the trowel represents building work and the lightning flash electrical work.