SANDF will be part of “broader” government Freedom Day celebrations

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Saturday (27 April) marks 30 years of democracy in South Africa and the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) – while not mounting an event of its own – will be part of the “broader national government” celebrations by way of a parade at the Union Buildings in the Tshwane metro.

This is as per an answer given to Democratic Alliance (DA) National Assembly (NA) representative Mike Bond by Defence and Military Veterans Minister Thandi Modise.

She told him the Military Command Council (MCC) decided against any SANDF/Department of Defence (DoD) specific event.

The national defence force will in all probability be represented by the National Ceremonial Guard (NCG) and a band or bands from the four services with gunners and 25 pounders for a gun salute as well as a flypast of some SA Air Force (SAAF) platforms over the seat of government on Meintjieskop.

The SANDF did not stage its annual Armed Forces Day (AFD) and associated week-long events to coincide with the SS Mendi sinking (on 21 February 1917) this year. This is widely seen as its premier public engagement and, apart from unconfirmed rumours, was put on hold due to financial constraints. Instead, individual units held small commemorations of the sinking.

With AFD on hold the SANDF took to two inland shows to bring the national defence force to the people. The first was the Rand Show in Johannesburg over the Easter long weekend and the Bloemfontein Show due to start on Thursday (25 April) in the Free State capital the second.

As has become custom, the SA Naval Museum in Simon’s Town will host a firing by its historic nine inch rifled muzzle loading (RML) cannon for Freedom Day on Saturday. The Freedom Day firing, which uses a 5 kg black powder blank charge, is one of five set down for the year. Firings at the Middle North battery are conducted by the Cannon Association of South Africa (CAOSA) under the expert supervision of retired SA Navy (SAN) warrant officers Harry Croome and Martin Venter.