The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) has recognised the importance of being publicly visible and will have an extensive presence at the upcoming Rand Show starting April 22, after a decade long absence.
Brigadier General Marthie Visser, SANDF Director of Corporate Communication, announced the move at a media briefing. Visser said an opinion survey indicated that it is very important for the SA National Defence Force to interact with the ordinary man in the street to improve its image with the public.
“The opinion survey showed that we enjoyed the support of the broader public in terms of our role in peacekeeping roles outside our borders, where we have now been involved for 10 years, but we need more of a presence on the ground in our own country.”
The Rand Show will take place at the Johannesburg Expo Centre from April 22 to May 2.
“The Defence Force was a major exhibitor at the Rand Show for many years, but the last time we were there was in 1997, which is 14 years ago, so it will provide the ideal opportunity for us to get face to face with our major stakeholders – the public of South Africa,” Visser said.
“This will be the largest display by the SANDF for many years and will involve all four sectors of the Defence Force, being Army, Air Force, Navy and the Military Health Service. Each will have its own story to tell, which will add to the variety,” Visser continued.
“The theme for our display will be ‘Defence in Peacetime – a Force for Good’ and we will promote the many roles played by SANDF members in supporting other government departments internally. This support includes assisting in natural disasters, health worker strikes, xenophobia, border protection and even extends to building bridges for people cut off by floods in Eastern Cape rural areas,” said the brigadier general.
The findings of this opinion survey by the SANDF coincide with those of a 2010 study that showed that Fortune magazine’s 1000 chief marketing officers say that “meetings and events which bring businesses face-to-face with their business prospects and customers provide the highest return on investment of any marketing channel.”
“It’s all too easy to forget we’re dealing with real people as conduct business from behind the facade of technology,” said a researcher from George P. Johnson, which is the largest marketing advertising agency and event marketing company in the world.
The scope of the SANDF display will ensure there are aspects of interest to all visitors to the show.
The Army display will include the versatile Starstreak missile launcher that can be carried by a soldier and is air droppable by parachute when being deployed with paratroopers. There will also be a Rooikat armoured car, Olifant tank and its transporter, Ratel, Mamba and Casspir armoured vehicles, as well as a multiple rocket launcher.
The Air Force will showcase its Gripen new generation fighter aircraft that played a key role in ensuring air security during the FIFA World Cup. There will also be a Rooivalk combat helicopter and an A109 light utility helicopter.
Great interest is expected to be shown in the SA Navy’s tank that is used for training divers, with daily demonstrations for the visitors. An example of new technology in the Navy is the Shallow Water Route Survey system which was used for sonar detection in the harbours of Cape Town, Port Elizabeth and Durban during the World Cup.
Visitors to the SA Military Health Service exhibition will be able to follow an evacuation route from a chemical and biological defence contamination deployment to a Level 1 health facility that can cane be deployed anywhere in the world during an operation.
In addition there will be flypasts by SAAF aircraft and an arena programme involving various units of the SANDF. This is still being finalised, but it expected to include band displays, a simulated hostage situation – with participation from the Air Force, Metro Police, SAPS and paratroopers – and a dog display by the SA Military Veterinary Institute.