Limpopo provincial capital Polokwane will host Armed Forces Day next year – the seventh time the national defence force will show itself and its equipment to South Africans as part of a stated intent to bring the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) to the people.
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 and sports 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 Mpumalanga and Western Cape before the next round of provincial hosting starts in 2022.
In preparation for the 2019 Polokwane event a team from the SANDF Logistics Division visited the Limpopo capital between 3 and 7 September, the division’s Kabelo Tsogang writes.
“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 reviews were the SANDF fan park, sports clinics and the parade itself.”
The SA Navy is the main organiser for Armed Forces Day 2019.