SA National Defence Force exercises right of entry into the Mother City


The City of Cape Town, endearingly dubbed the Mother City, reaffirmed the right for eleven units across all Services and Divisions of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) to exercise their ‘Freedom of Entry to the City.’

Taking place on Saturday 23 September in front of the iconic Cape Town City Hall, Freedom of Entry is given to military units in recognition of their long relationship with a city or their outstanding service to the nation.

Dating back to ancient Rome, it is a timeworn honour, allowing martial units the privilege of marching into a city with drums beating, colours flying and bayonets fixed.

Since 1967, the City of Cape Town and its predecessor municipalities have granted Freedom of Entry to 16 military units. Four of those units have since disbanded, whilst a number have also changed their name since the City honoured them.

The following units were represented at the Parade, in the order of the date at which they received the Freedom of Entry:

  • Nelson Mandela Artillery Regiment (formerly the Cape Field Artillery) in 1967
  • Cape Town Highlanders in 1967
  • Chief Langalibalele Rifles (formerly the Cape Town Rifles) in 1967
  • 10 Anti-Aircraft Regiment/Artillery Air Defence School
  • Autshumato Anti-Aircraft Regiment (formerly the Cape Garrison Artillery)
  • 35 Squadron (SAAF) in 1967
  • 22 Squadron (SAAF) in 1983
  • Gen Jan Smuts Regiment (formerly Regiment Westelike Provinsie)
  • Air Force Base Ysterplaat in 2009
  • 9 South African Infantry Battalion in 2010
  • 3 Medical Battalion Group in 2010.

Unfortunately, the SA Navy withdrew due to the tragic loss of three crew from the submarine SAS Manthatisi just a few days previously.

Due to the last-minute unavailability of the Executive Mayor of the City of Cape Town, the main functionary was former Deputy Mayor, Alderman Ian Neilson and City Speaker, Alderman Felicity Purchase. General Officer Commanding of the SA Army Air Defence Artillery Formation, Brigadier General Leon Puckree represented the Chief of the SANDF.

The ceremonial Company Commander was Lieutenant Colonel HH Gertse and the Ceremonial Company Warrant Officer was Senior Warrant Officer WM Mc Lain.

Speaking at the Parade, Neilson noted that some of the units present had histories going back to the nineteen century.

“We salute them for their valour, service and sacrifice,” he said.

Neilson continued that although there are no current battles to fight, “there are certain universal values that still form the cornerstone of our society and of our humanity.”

“The values of human rights and human dignity, of equality and freedom; values that we must be ever vigilant in promoting and defending,” he continued.

A vehicle parade took place along Darling Street between the City Hall and the Grand Parade.

Supported by the SA Army Band and the SAAF Band, the mechanised column was headed by Ratel 20 infantry fighting vehicles of the Cape Town Highlanders and General Jan Smuts Regiment, Mamba armoured personnel carriers from Chief Langalibalele Rifles and 9 SA Infantry Battalion, ceremonial QF 25-Pounder GV1s of Nelson Mandela Artillery Regiment and 35 mm anti-aircraft guns from Autshumato Anti-Aircraft Regiment.

Other vehicles included a recovery vehicle, workshop truck, vehicle ambulances, Mfezi Armoured Ambulances and fire engines. The Oryx and Super Lynx helicopter fly past was flown by Ysterplaat-based 22 Squadron.