Project Koba-Tlala, originally an initiative to provide employment and add skills to part-time soldiers not on active duty, has spread its wings to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) where a Sapper corporal is adding nutritional value to mess meals with “home grown” greens.
SA Army Engineer Formation Lance Corporal ON Sedutla’s day-time job, as it were, is an electrician. When duties are done he heads for a vegetable garden on base.
The garden is his own initiative and, according to Lieutenant Makeketela Mamabolo, produces spinach, tomatoes, green peppers and other vegetables which base chefs use when preparing meals for the South African support company personnel housed there. Additionally, soldiers from other RSABATT (Republic of South Africa Battalion) companies also have an opportunity to partake of fresh greens from Sedutla’s garden when they replenish at the base.
In South Africa, Project Koba-Tlala was the brainchild of former Chief: Army Reserves Brigadier General Gerhard Kamffer. In addition to providing fresh produce for use in military kitchens with any overflow sold to local communities, Koba-Tlala adds to the skillsets of Reserve Force soldiers with the aim of making them economically active. This is in line with the overall commitment of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) to government’s National Development Plan (NDP).
The other SANDF contribution to the NDP is the military skills development (MSD) system which sees around two thousand young men and women enter the national defence force for two years. In addition to military skills they, depending on mustering, can become chefs or firefighters to name just two skills with a civilian application.
Ongoing budget constraints have seen the annual MSD intake replaced by one every two years.
Mamabolo, an explosive and ordnance disposal team leader, said Sedutla’s efforts prove the Engineer Formation has “not only the best Sappers in Africa when it comes to engineering tasks with feeding our countrymen also a passion”.