Freedom of Thohoyandou for 15 SAI


The peacekeeping efforts of 15 SA Infantry (SAI) Battalion, recently back from a 14 month deployment in DR Congo, will be recognised when the unit is honoured with the freedom of Thohoyandou tomorrow (Friday, 18 March).

The unit is based in what was the capital of the Venda homeland and is today, in addition to being listed as “a town in Limpopo”, also the administrative centre of Vhembe District Municipality and Thulamela Local Municipality.

15 SAI came into being post-1994 when the former homeland defence and liberation forces integrated with the former SA Defence Force (SADF) to form the SA National Defence Force (SANDF). It origins as a motorised infantry battalion are reflected in its past as landward component of the erstwhile Venda Defence Force (VDF).

An SA Army headquarters statement has it 15 SAI “will be afforded the freedom of the city at Thohoyandou Town Hall” by the Thulamela Local Municipality. The honour will be marked by a parade with the unit marching through Thohoyandou with “drums beating, colours flying and bayonets fixed”. The honour dates back to ancient Rome and today is an entirely ceremonial honour. It is usually bestowed on a unit with historic ties to the area which 15 SAI definitely has, as a token of appreciation for service.

Thulamela executive major Grace Mahosi will be the functionary according to the statement.

The Freedom of the City parade is the culmination of a week-long series of roadshows, static displays and career guidance to bring the SANDF closer to people living in and around Thohoyandou.