For the first time, the Chief of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) has travelled to Cape Town to confer medals to members of the SANDF in the Western Cape who have distinguished themselves over the years through various achievements.
In conferring the 91 medals to members of the SANDF who mostly serve in units within the Western Cape Province, General Solly Shoke made good on his announcement at the medal parade held at Defence Headquarters in Pretoria at the end of last year that, instead of recipients travelling to Pretoria, arrangements would be made for medal parades to be held in their home provinces.
Speaking at the parade at the Wynberg Military Sports Grounds in Cape Town on Wednesday, Shoke noted that “this parade affords me the opportunity to visit my units on the ground and to communicate with commanders and members of the SANDF in the area that they operate from.”
Addressing the parade, Shoke emphasised that soldiering is a calling and that once in the SANDF, members are called to serve and not to be served. Shoke continued that some members try everything to stay in their comfort zone and forget about their true responsibilities.
“Unfortunately,” Shoke said, “I have observed a culture of entitlement, a tendency where some of you, instead of putting the interests of the organization and the country first, put their rights and freedoms above everything else.”
“They should put the interest of the country first…in service of the nation,” Shoke stressed. Despite this, Shoke noted that “fortunately these categories of people are in the minority. The majority of the SANDF members are extremely dedicated to the military profession and loyal to the organization.”
Referring to the lack of discipline amongst certain members of the SANDF, Shoke explained that the SANDF was still recovering from the side effects of the incident of “disgraceful conduct by some undisciplined members of the SANDF,” who, on 26 August 2009, took part in an illegal strike at the Union Buildings.
“They had violent clashes with the police, while bearing placards swearing at the State President, the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, all that done in the name of freedom of expression,” Shoke explained. “Those people did irreparable damage to the image of the SANDF. What reward will be reaped from their actions – the jury is still out on that one.”
“We are proud of our achievements, we should be proud of our national flag. The success of the SANDF is based on discipline,” Shoke said.
Dominated by Naval members, medals awarded included the Protea Silver (for exceptionally meritorious service and particular devotion to duty), Protea Bronze (members who have distinguished themselves by performing services of the highest order), a 50 Year Medal for Distinguished and Loyal Service (awarded to Captain LA Taylor of the Cape Town Rifles) and the Medal for Loyal Service (40 and 30 years). In addition to receiving a 40 Year Loyal Service medal, Rear Admiral A G Green was also handed a Chief of SANDF Commendation Certificate.