The Surgeon General (SG) of the SA National Defence Force, Lt Gen VI “Vejay” Ramlakan has opened the South African Military Health Service’s (SAMHS) new training facility at Lephalale in Limpopo province.
The SAMHS took over the facility from the SA Army earlier this year after the need arose for more accommodation and training facilities for Military Skills Development System intakes.
With the assistance of the National Department of Public Works the upgrading of the facility, the building of new classrooms, dining hall and married quarters took about 14 weeks. The budget gfor the improvements were not disclosed.
“This facility is indeed testimony to what can be achieved when all role-players work together to better the lives of our people,” the Surgeon General said when he officially handed the facilities over to the General Officer Commanding of the Military Health Training Formation, Brigadier General “JJ” Msimang on Friday.
The SAMHS has previously made use of SA Army facilities. Ramlakan noted that up to the end of last year, the SAMHS conducted basic military training at the SA Army Combat Training Centre at Lohatlha. The Army however believed the base was meant for combat exercises and, “to a lesser extent, joint developmental training and not for the basic training purposes that the SAMHS was using it for.
“This then explains why the SAMHS is still accommodated in Lohatla for the more advanced courses such as the Warrant Officers Course, the Medical Platoon Commanders Course as well as the Junior Command and Staff Course which are done jointly with other Services,” Ramlakan said o Friday.
“Secondly, as a direct result of the suspension by the Army on all basic military training activities by the SAMHS in Lohatla, the January-June 2009 Intake had to go to 3SAI in Kimberley which was not the smoothest of relocations I must say.
“Further, the Army, for our continued presence at 3SAI, rightly so, expected of us to pay huge sums of money for maintenance of the place and related costs.
“As the SAMHS Command Cadre, we had to choose between pumping and injecting money into the Army’s coffers year-in, year out or investing into our own future by securing our own training facility that is tailor-made for our unique military health training requirements.
“That the second option was chosen by the Command Cadre in the SAMHS is now common knowledge,” the SG continued.
“The rather long and drawn-out process of implementing our option of choice meant that the current intake, totaling 412 members, whose passing-out parade is scheduled for December 10 also here in Lephalale, had to squat at the Traning Formation under very difficult circumstances characterised by shortage of space and other challenges.
“With the official opening of this facility today, all the hardship endured by the current intake will soon be a thing of the past as the current intake currently doing their field phase at Sterkrivier (another Army facility) is expected to report for duty here on Monday.”