The Western Cape and not Limpopo will host 2019’s Armed Forces Day events during the week of 21 February after the venue was changed to the coast.
A statement issued by Department of Defence (DoD) head of communication, Siphiwe Dlamini, notes the department and the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) will host the 2019 Armed Forces Day celebrations and the commemoration of the sinking of the SS Mendi in the Western Cape.
Four weeks ago the SANDF Logistics Division indicated the event would be held in the Limpopo provincial capital, Polokwane.
defenceWeb was informed at the time a team from the Logistics Division visited Polokwane.
“The group, under command of chief co-ordinator, Director: Engineering Support Systems at Logistics, Rear Admiral Mthethwa, met with provincial government departments, municipal officials and stakeholders early in September. Among topics reviewed were the SANDF fan park, sports clinics and the parade itself.”
According to the Dlamini statement there are various events scheduled for the week leading up to the main parade on Thursday 21 February in the Blaauwberg, better known as Blouberg, Strand area. These include the opening of a fan park at Mandela Park Stadium in Khayelitsha; an inter-faith church service, a wreath laying ceremony at the University of Cape Town and a legacy project, details of which still have to be announced. South African Navy ships will be at anchor in Cape Town’s V&A waterfront and open to the public.
A highlight of the week is expected to be a capability demonstration night shoot at Muizenberg’s Sunrise Beach on February 19.
Armed Forces Day 2019 will be organised by the SA Navy, as each SANDF service takes a turn at organising and hosting the event.
“Armed Forces Day is a day on which the South African population honours men and women of the SANDF by affirming its support and gratitude to them for upholding the constitution of the Republic and defending the territorial integrity of the Republic and protecting its people,” the DoD said in its statement.
The first official Armed Forces Day was held at Atteridgeville, Pretoria, in Gauteng in 2013. This venue was selected because it is home to an SAS Mendi memorial. The sinking of the troopship in the English Channel on 21 February 1917 is still the single largest naval tragedy in South Africa’s military history and was selected as the commemorative day for the South African military to mark both the tragedy and show South Africans “their” defence force.
Since then Armed Forces Day has grown to a week-long event with fan parks, career exhibitions, sports and other events alongside displays of military equipment and parades representing the four services – air force, army, military health and navy – and has been to six provinces.
The 2014 event took place in the Free State capital Bloemfontein, with Potchefstroom’s North West hosting it in 2015. Eastern Cape provincial capital, Port Elizabeth, was host in 2016 with Durban in KwaZulu-Natal next up in 2017 followed by Northern Cape provincial capital Kimberley this year.
After next year the only two provinces left to host Armed Forces Day are Limpopo and Mpumalanga before the next round of provincial hosting starts in 2022.