An SA National Defence Force (SANDF) initiative to honour the memory of democratic South Africa’s first president by awarding medals to those involved in Nelson Mandela’s last days will see almost 10,000 medals handed out by mid-year.
The specially minted Mandela medals comes in gold, silver and bronze classes with the first of the golds presented by President Jacob Zuma, Commander-in-chief of the SANDF, at AFB Waterkloof in December. More Mandela medals were awarded, again by Zuma, during this year’s Armed Forces Day parade in Potchefstroom on February 21.
According to SANDF director: corporate communication, Brigadier General Xolani Mabanga, to date a total of 104 Mandela medals (Gold) have been presented to 83 SANDF members, mostly SA Military Health Service members, and 21 civilian doctors who treated Mandela before his death on December 5, 2013.
The Mandela medals presentation is currently in the next phase with verification and finalisation of recipients’ names by arm of service and division with the allocation of medals and certificates finishing this phase.
The next phase is set to run from May 8 to June 26 when medal parades will be staged by SANDF services and divisions across the country. The Mandela medal event finishes on June 29 with final confirmation of completion and handover of medals Mabanga said.
He did not indicate how many parades would be held and where but it is expected the majority will be in Gauteng, centring on Pretoria and surrounds with Eastern Province, where Mandela was buried in his home town on Qunu, also hosting at least one medal parade.
The parades will see 200 medals in the Silver Class awarded while a staggering 9,460 bronze Mandela medals make up by far the bulk of this new addition to the SANDF awards and medals list.