The SA National Defence Force (SANDF) Education Trust will this year provide bursaries for at least 31 children to further their studies.
The Trust was established by SANDF Chief General Solly Shoke to assist the families of soldiers and civilian Department of Defence and SANDF employees killed or injured during the execution of their duties subsequent to April 27, 1994.
The deaths of 15 soldiers in the ill-fated Battle for Bangui last March as well as the loss of SAAF personnel in two aircraft crashes, a C-47TP in the Drakensberg in December 2012 that left 11 dead and five more killed when an Agusta A109 crashed in the Kruger National Park last March, was the final catalyst for the Trust’s establishment last August.
Major General Roy Andersen, SANDF Reserve Force Chief, who is also one of the Trust’s three trustees, said 19 donors have already pledged R4 654 000 to it.
“The trustees are due to meet on February 12 to finalise bursaries for this year. Indications to date are that 31 scholars and students should qualify. This is broken down into 14 at primary school, 14 at high school and three undergoing tertiary education. The total cost for year one is expected to be in the region of R415 000, depending on the amount finally agreed to by the Trustees,” he said.
An SA Air Force (SAF) chaplain, Phumi Koliti, made it his duty to ensure the Trust is aware of the plight of the family of Sergeant Lulamile Sobantu. The 503 Air Squadron member was one of those killed in the Drakensberg crash and his family had to move out of their allocated house in Thaba Tshwane.
This saw Tamkazi Sobantu and her five children return to the Butterworth area of the Eastern Cape facing an uncertain future in financial terms.
The AFB Waterkloof chaplain took it upon himself to find her and ensure the necessary application forms were properly completed to ensure consideration by the Trustees.
With support from the SANDF Chaplain General Brigadier General (Rev) Andrew Jamangile, senior management at AFB Waterkloof and Colonel Monica Muller (the nodal point administering the Trust), Koliti literally went the extra mile to ensure all documentation was properly completed with supporting information as regards proof of income, academic progress, birth certificates and the applicable invoices from educational institutions.
He returned to Pretoria with mission successfully executed and the Sobantu family happy their application for educational assistance will be delivered to the Trustees in the right format.
Andersen said the Trust is currently limited to primary, high and tertiary education assistance.
“It may not, for tax reasons, pay the cost of pre-school education but we are hopeful of finding another fund which will address the nine such applications received to date.
“If this is achieved more dependents will be helped. The Battle for Bangui and the Drakensberg air crash feature prominently in the list of applicants,” he said.
Contributions can be made to the SANDF Education Trust; Nedgroup Trust, Resident Trust Account, Nedbank. The branch is Corporate Client Services, 145209 and the account number is 1452016976. The reference SANDF Edu Trust and donor’s name should accompany all deposits.