The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) supported the people of South Africa in many ways over the last year, from medical evacuation to firefighting and search and rescue.
This is according to the 2016/17 Department of Defence (DoD) annual report, which stated that assisting the inhabitants of South Africa covered everything from bridge building to humanitarian assistance – for instance, in October 2016 a water bunker was delivered to the KwaMhlanga Local Clinic in Bronkhorstspruit, Mpumalanga after the water tanks at the clinic had run dry.
The SA Army (SA Army Engineer Formation) assisted with the construction and completion of four low-cost bridges in the Eastern Cape. The completed bridges were handed over to the National Department of Public Works (NDPW) on 25 May 2016. Further initiatives included the pre-assessment and feasibility studies of other possible bridge construction opportunities in the Eastern Cape and Limpopo, the DoD said. “The joint venture and cooperation between the DoD and NDPW created the conditions for the residents of the identified areas to enjoy the benefits of unobstructed movement, resulting in better living conditions.”
The SANDF’s contribution to the outcome that “all people in South Africa are and feel safe” manifested in the form of contributions to several operations, such as Operation Chariot covering disaster relief and humanitarian assistance. The South African Air Force flew fifteen helicopter missions in support of Operation Chariot as well as 11 missions in support of the SA Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC), with the aim of providing assistance to the maritime community under the auspices of Operation Arabella. Four people were safely evacuated from vessels in South Africa’s territorial waters in 2016/17.
Other internal operations the SANDF contributed to in 2016/17 included Operation Prosper (support to Government departments, mainly the South African Police Service) and Operation Corona (border safeguarding, with 15 companies deployed on the borders).
The SANDF said it supported the people of South Africa in the last financial year by assisting with the fighting of veld fires in Somerset West, Du Toits Kloof, Simon’s Town, Glen Cairne, Paarl and Wellington. Oryx Helicopters delivered 1 388 Bambi Buckets of water over the affected areas.
Helicopters were used to conduct medical evacuation in Nelspruit, Cape Town and the Magaliesberg mountain range. Blankets were airlifted to snow bound citizens in the Mount Fletcher area. Recovery and expert advice was provided during the recovery process of a child that fell into a mineshaft in the Doornpoort area. Other incidents saw the SANDF evacuate four survivors of a light aircraft crash in the Drakensberg (Cathedral Peak) area. As a result of further search and rescue missions, six hikers experiencing difficulties in mountainous areas, were brought to safety.