Secretary for Defence, Dr Sam Gulube, used the official opening of the Rand Show on Good Friday to confirm to South Africans that the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) was “the apolitical defence force of the people” and its members were dedicated to defending the country and its people.
He told those present in the arena for the official opening, ahead of an energy-packed demonstration of SANDF capabilities and equipment, the SANDF was taking part in the Rand Show under the theme of “not just another hero”.
“It is a theme that seeks to celebrate the selfless service our men and women in uniform render to their country even at the risk of their lives. We say ‘not just another hero’ because the sons and daughters of South Africa who respond to the call to become soldiers are not ordinary heroes. They are a select few who choose to forfeit the glitz and glamour of other career opportunities and occupations making the brave choice of defending the land of their birth with their own lives. Such is the sacrifice our soldiers make.
“Our soldiers are true heroes who are activated in humanitarian efforts in aid of our fellow South Africans in times of distress as well as in peace enforcement and peace building operations across the African continent and the Rand Show affords us the opportunity to share our stories of success and challenges with our people while also displaying military hardware for our people to have the look at and get the feel of their country’s wide-ranging inventory of battle equipment.”
Gulube said soldiers from all four services of the SANDF – air force, army, navy and military health – would be at the show to interact with South Africans and give them an insight into “the responsibility they have to defend and protect”.
He added the SANDF had been an integral part of the Johannesburg show, generally accepted as being the largest consumer exhibition in South Africa, since 2011 and it had become a platform for the military to “reach out to South Africans and showcase it capabilities and vast career opportunities the country’s sons and daughters are invited to embrace”.
Men and women in uniform on the SANDF stand were, the Secretary for Defence said, on hand to share their stories of successes and challenges in, among others, peace enforcement and peacebuilding as well as in times of disaster and distress. He urged showgoers to speak to the soldiers saying previous experience has seen “a high level of patriotism inspired” among people who interacted with airmen, military medics, sailors and soldiers.