On 14 November at the Pretoria Military Sports Club, the South African Military Health Service (SAMHS) held a change of command parade for the outgoing Surgeon General (SG), Lieutenant General Aubrey Sedibe, and incoming SG, Lieutenant General Zola Dabula.
The parade began with a general salute, followed by a single engine aircraft flypast and an artillery salute. Sedibe’s Curriculum Vitae (CV) was then read out to the crowd of mostly SAMHS personnel, high-ranking generals and VIPs.
Members of the parade consisted of the Mobile Military Health Formation (MMHF), which is comprised of 1 Medical Battalion group, 3 Medical Battalion group, 6 Medical Battalion group, 7 Medical Battalion group and 8 Medical Battalion group. In addition to the MMHF, 1 Military Hospital and the SAMHS band were also on parade as well as 7 Medical Battalion group Jumpers who parachuted from an aircraft and as the parade finished marching around the sports ground, Jumpers landed and handed over a scroll to the outgoing SG. The scroll is a part of SAMHS change of command tradition which has the official change of command passages enscribed on it.
Sedibe then proceeded to give his outgoing speech in talking about the successes of the SAMHS during his tenure as SG. One being the role that the SAMHS Operational Emergency Care Practitioners and Emergency Care Technicians played in ensuring continuity of services during the Gauteng mortuaries labour strike action. Sedibe also highlighted the medical support rendered to Operation Vaal as an accomplishment as well as the SAMHS still rendering medical cover for Operation Prosper in the Western Cape.
Under Operation Chariot in the Eastern Cape, SA Army Engineers and SAMHS elements are building bridges for communities and children allowing for safe passage across waterways during the rainy season.
Another accomplishment for Sedibe was project Thusano. The project involved cooperation between the Department of Defence (DoD) and the Cuban government leading to the repairing and conserving of SAMHS military Bravo and Delta vehicles. “The necessity of buying brand new vehicles and spending exorbitant amounts of money repairing our vehicles in the private industry, is the history of the past”.
Cuban Heberprot-P therapy, initiated in military hospitals to heal and recover patients from diabetic ulcers, was highlighted by Sedibe as vital in saving lives. “The Epithelial Growth Factor of Heberprot-P inhibits and completely heals the diabetic ulcer thereby saving the limbs from being amputated, which might or always leads to death”.
The outgoing Sedibe then read the scroll which officially instated the incoming SG and handed over the SAMHS ceremonial command sword to Dabula.
The parade ended with a display by the Saint Engenas Zion Christian Church Brass Band upon which invited guests made their way in the Pretoria Military Sports Club Hall where incoming SG Dabula thanked many for his appointment and stated, “To members of the South African Military Health Service whom I’m going to lead and guide from today onwards, with diligence, with honour, with efficiency, with courage and discipline and with everything else that goes with that, I would like to say to you, ‘this is the new commander who is in town’.”