Potchefstroom/Tlokwe is very much the military capital of North West and as such is a suitable venue for this year’s Armed Forces Day parade where President Jacob Zuma, SA National Defence Force (SANDF) Commander-in-Chief will present an as yet unknown number of medals to an unknown number of recipients.
Set down for Saturday, February 21, to commemorate the sinking of the SS Mendi in the English Channel in 1917, Armed Forces Day brings the military to South Africans on their own turf.
Previous Armed Forces Day parades have been held at AFB Waterkloof in Gauteng and AFB Bloemspruit in Bloemfontein.
With no less than nine military units, including Reserve Force units Regiment De la Rey, Potchefstroom University Regiments, Regiment Mooirivier and Regiment Skoonspruit, in its municipal area, Potchefstroom has the highest number of military personnel of any city or town in the province.
Responding to enquiries about the nature of the February 21 parade and other activities, SANDF Corporate Communications said: “A decision still has to be made confirming the type and category of medals to be presented as well as the number of recipients”.
The parade portion of Armed Forces Day will be held in front of the municipal offices in Wolmarans Street. The Commander-in-Chief will take the parade salute and there will also be a flypast by certain SA Air Force aircraft. Once the parade is finished the mechanised column will move through the town on a planned route before entering surrounding townships to interact with the local population.
The town’s Trim Park will host a career exhibition as well as a number of displays of military skills including paratrooper’s free-fall, quad bikes, dogs and drills ranging from precision through to sword.