Between now and his change of command parade on 28 May, outgoing SA National Defence Force (SANDF) Chief General Solly Shoke will go from Limpopo in the north to the Western Cape in the south on a national end of duty tour bidding farewell to the airmen, medics, sailors and soldiers he commanded for 10 years.
He will use the visit to introduce his successor, current Joint Operations Chief Lieutenant General Rudzani Maphwanya, “meeting and greeting” commanders of provincial groups.
The tour, according to the SANDF Directorate: Corporate Communications (DCC), starts in Mpumalanga and will stop at the Middelburg base housing 4 SA Infantry Battalion.
Then it’s on to Limpopo where the top level national defence force contingent will make three stops. The first, as supplied by DCC and with no units given, is Phalaborwa, home of 7 SA Infantry Battalion. From here it’s on to Air Force Base Makhado, where 85 Combat Flying School (CFS) and the airborne service’s lone fighter jet squadron – 2 – are based. The final stop is provincial capital Polokwane, home to an SA Army General Support Base (GSB).
Next on the DCC-supplied itinerary is Free State capital Bloemfontein, home to a number of SA Army units and 16 Squadron, which operates the South African designed and built Rooivalk combat support helicopter as well as 3 Military Hospital.
Then it’s on to Northern Cape capital Kimberley which, like its Free State counterpart, is home to a number of military units including 3 SA Infantry Battalion, 10 Anti-Aircraft Regiment and the Air Defence Artillery School.
SA Navy (SAN) fleet headquarters in Simon’s Town is next on Shoke’s farewell tour list. Along with Saldanha on the west coast where SAS Saldanha, the maritime service’s training base is housed, these are the only stops the retiring four-star general will make in the Western Cape.
The final stop on the itinerary is KwaZulu-Natal port city Durban where, presumably, the tour group will take in Naval Base Durban, identified as the home base for the SAN patrol fleet.
Back in the country’s administrative capital, Shoke will prepare for his change of command parade at the Pretoria Military Sports Club in Thaba Tshwane. First item on the parade agenda is “a swearing-in ceremony for the newly appointed CSANDF (Maphwanya)” followed by the parade proper. No details of parade size, possible SA Air Force (SAAF) flypast or equipment possibly on display was provided by SANDF communicators in its statement on the farewell tour.