SANDF opens Rand Show


The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) yesterday officially opened the 2013 Rand Show with a tribute to the 13 soldiers who died in the Central African Republic last weekend. The SANDF’s prominent presence is being used to show off its equipment and capabilities.

“It has been a very difficult week for the Department of Defence and people of South Africa, after learning of the tragic loss of 13 members of the South African National Defence Force and the 27 who sustained injuries. We are deeply saddened by this incident,” said Secretary for Defence Dr Sam Gulube.
“To the families of the deceased, I would like to say, we in the DOD feel that pain day in and day out, today your pain becomes national grief.
“These fallen heroes formed part of 200 soldiers that were deployed in CAR early this year. They fought side by side as true soldiers fighting off large group of rebels. Though it may seem as they were out-numbered, they were able to hold their own in a battle that lasted over nine hours. We in the Department of Defence are proud of these soldiers; in their death we find strength to carry on delivering on our constitutional mandate to defend the sovereignty of the Republic of South Africa and to provide support to her people,” Gulube said during his opening address.

The South African National Defence Force is taking part in the Rand Show for the third year in a row after an absence of seven years. “It is a singular pleasure for the DOD to once more participate at this year’s Rand Easter Show. Since its inception, the Rand Show has grown in leaps and bounds. Over years it has established itself as one of the largest consumer exhibition in the world,” Gulube told the crowd gathered at Nasrec yesterday morning.

A quarter of a million people are expected to visit the show over the four days it runs, visiting attractions like the animal park, Alpine Village with snow slope, drift track, stunt riding course, fairground and more.
“The aim of the SANDF’s participation in the Rand Show is to display, demonstrate and exhibit the SANDF’s capabilities which ensure that the people of South Africa are safe and feel safe. This is in line with various policies and initiatives that are undertaken by government in partnership with the people of South Africa,” Gulube said.

The SANDF has a wide array of equipment on display to the public, covering all four arms of service. The display is dominated by the Army, with armoured vehicles (including the Oliphant main battle tank), small arms, electronic and surveillance equipment, mine detection vehicles, mobile bridges and more. The Air Force brought an A109 Light Utility Helicopter, radars and air-to-surface missiles while the Navy is displaying a number of boats, their diving tank and naval weapons from torpedoes to machineguns. The South African Military Health Services has a mobile field hospital, complete with mock injured ‘patients’.

Gulube noted that this year’s Rand Show was taking place following the fifth Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (Brics) summit held earlier in the week in Durban. “Inescapably, our country’s economic growth is linked to such partnerships with global players,” Gulube said. Promoting the African agenda “became prominent when Trade ministers from all five BRICS countries pledged increased support for the African continent.

However, furthering education, skills, development and economic growth in Africa “can amount to nothing if our continent continues to be riddled by power struggle and turmoil. For South Africa to fully prosper there needs to be stability in the continent,” Gulube said.
“Our involvement in Peace Support Operations in the sub-region and on the continent is a hallmark of our contribution to a better South Africa. It goes without saying that members of the SANDF have been excellent ambassadors of our country in the quest for peace.”

After Gulube’s speech, soldiers paraded across the show grounds and two Silver Falcons aircraft flew by trailing smoke. They were followed by a Hawk Mk 120 Lead In Fighter-Trainer, which wowed the crowd with an aerobatic demonstration before rumbling off into the distance.

The Rand Show runs until Monday April 1 at the Johannesburg Expo Centre.