Medal parades are coming thick and fast as the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) hustles to meet its stated obligation of ensuring all Mandela medals are presented by mid-year.
The first Mandela medal parade was held at AFB Waterkloof in December with President Jacob Zuma, SANDF Commander-in-Chief, as the main functionary.
In February when the SANDF marked Armed Forces Day in the North West town of Potchefstroom Zuma was again present to hand over Mandela medals.
The specially designed and struck Mandela medals are an SANDF initiative to honour the memory of democratic South Africa’s first president. The medals have been and will still be awarded to soldiers and civilians involved in caring for Mandela prior to his death as well as those involved in the various aspects of his State funeral.
Indications are that, by the time June ends, close to 10,000 Mandela medals will have been presented with by far the bulk in the bronze class.
An SA Navy medal parade scheduled for Simon’s town last week has been postponed while the SA Military Health Service (SAMHS) held the first of three medal parades at Tempe in Bloemfontein last week. SAMHS parades will be held in Gauteng and Limpopo before month end with “at least another 200 Mandela medals to be awarded” according to Colonel Nokwanda Dondolo. Eighty Mandela medals were presented by Surgeon General, Lieutenant General Aubrey Sedibe, during the Tempe parade.
SA Army Chief, Lieutenant General Vusi Masondo, will on Wednesday present Mandela medals to 45 SA Army members during a parade at Army headquarters in Pretoria.
Army spokesman Colonel Mafi Mgobozi said ahead of the parade the 23 silver and 22 bronze Mandela medals would be awarded to members who contributed to the dignified funeral of the first Commander-in-Chief and President of a democratic South Africa.
“It was during this time members of the SA Army mobilised a concerted effort to ensure South Africa gave a dignified send-off to former president Mandela. Medals are being awarded to those who played a meaningful role during the preparation, execution and re-organisation phases of the former president’s funeral.”
A Mandela medal parade is also still to be held at Zwartkop Park, headquarters of the Joint Operations Division of the SANDF.