AFB Waterkloof in Centurion will on Sunday host the first of a number of Mandela medal parades with “about” 150 of a new, specially designed and produced SA National Defence Force (SANDF) medal to be awarded.
Captain (SAN) Prince Tshabalala said the parade was the first of a number between now and June next year to honour SANDF members who took care of the former president during his illness and assisted in the planning and execution of the State funeral accorded to the first Commander-in-Chief of the SANDF.
The medals are, according to the SANDF Corporate Communications Directorate, specifically designed for and dedicated to pay homage to Nelson Mandela, democratic South Africa’s first president, as well as SANDF members who had “significant roles” in caring for him before his death.
Tshabalala said the first Mandela medals would be awarded in gold, silver and bronze with Sunday’s parade at the Centurion air force base presided over by current SANDF Commander-in-Chief, President Jacob Zuma. Indications are the majority of medals will be awarded in the gold class and will go to SA Military Health Service members.
This will be Zuma’s first public appearance following his return from an official State visit to China. At the time of publication The Presidency’s diary for Zuma showed no appointments for Sunday, December 7.
“The Chief of the SANDF’s (General Solly Shoke’s) intention is that these medals should be awarded to deserving SANDF members over the period December 2014/June 2015. The President as Commander-in-Chief will award the first medals and subsequent medals will be awarded by Shoke. Arms of service and divisional chiefs may be delegated for these duties,” an SANDF statement reads.
Tshabalala said he did not know how many medals would be presented in each of the classes or how many parades and venues would accommodate the Mandela medal presentations.