Soldiers help out with classrooms in Eastern Cape


While not exactly an Operation Prosper tasking, a recent job undertaken and completed by soldiers deployed on the border protection tasking Operation Corona has materially assisted an impoverished Eastern Cape community.

The community is Matatiele and men and women of Reserve Force unit Prince Alfred’s Guard (PAG) found themselves close to it as part of their operational duty of patrolling the Lesotho border. They are one of 15 companies doing the hard yards, on foot and in specially adapted 4X4 vehicles, to keep undocumented people out of South Africa as well as seizing contraband, putting a stop to stock theft and doing their level best to ensure the flow of dagga from Lesotho is intercepted long before it reaches the lucrative Gauteng market.

Taskings designated to the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) under Operation Prosper are to assist South Africans in need. The most recent example is in North West where SA Military Health Service (SAMHS) personnel have been running medical, hospital and pharmaceutical services. Another Op Prosper example is when soldiers assist after floods, rescuing people and saving their homes and goods.

The PAG company was deployed in Eastern Cape during the previous financial year and as part of its community outreach programme, identified a need for classrooms at the Caiphus Khoapa Junior Secondary School. The involvement of the soldiers has seen 11 classrooms added to the school to, as it was put by Defence and Military Veterans Minister, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, “rid our children of the perils of over-crowded environments and improve their chances of access to quality education”.

The Reserve Force unit set itself a target date of July 2018, coinciding with the national Mandela Centenary event, to complete the classrooms. Soldiers worked alongside personnel from the departments of Education and Public Works, the local municipality and local residents to meet the deadline.

Mapisa-Nqakula, along with SANDF Joint Operations Chief, Lieutenant General Barney Hlatshwayo, attended the official handover of classrooms to the school last week.