At the Thaba Tshwane City Hall, the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) held its 2019 Thanksgiving Ceremony.
The Thanksgiving ceremony on Monday was a time to, “thank God through music” stated the MC for the event, Chaplain Reverend Sebataolo Loate. Music was provided by the Army Support Formation Orchestra, the South African Military Health Services (SAMHS) band, Chaplain Reverend Frans Manganye and a choir comprised of Army and Air Force members. Invited gospel artists included the Nkabinde Brothers, Solly Moholo, Xolani Jwaga, Miss Dladla and her accompaniment and Mpho Thosago.
SANDF members as well as invited guests filled the City Hall with Secretary for Defence, Dr Sam Gulube, in attendance along with all command generals including Chief of the SANDF, General Solly Shoke.
Chaplain General of the SANDF, Brigadier General Monwabisi Jamangile, gave a strong sermon about trust, conduct, unity and faith. Jamangile urged members of the SANDF to expose those who are wrong in stating, “This faction of ill-disciplined people, let’s get rid of them… From today, if you thought that you will continue with your tactics of ill-discipline, we are going to isolate you”. A message to unite under one uniform and code of conduct was also resolutely emphasized by Jamangile, in saying, “The time has come for us now to sing the code of conduct.”
General Shoke gave his end-of-year address in which he gave thanks to those in attendance and celebrated the successes of the SANDF in 2019. “I’d like to say to members of the defence force and the people of South Africa, I love you”. Shoke stated that the Goodwill Parcel Project will be donating hampers to the families of soldiers who are deployed over this festive season. In addition, hampers were to be delivered to soldiers in the Democratic Republic of Congo, however due to the recent fighting, particularly in the eastern part of the DRC, this trip has been put on hold until January 2020. Shoke emphasized that these hampers were funded by the people of South Africa and not the government.
Similarly, the SANDF Education Trust, which assists the children of those who died in the line of duty, has raised funds in the millions of rands. “Today, as I stand before you here, I’m proud to report that we were able to raise money to the tune of about R23 million”. Shoke went on to say, “today, in fact this defence force is much stronger in 25 years and its far better than any other government department… We won the Old Mutual Awards, overall, as the best department in the RSA.”
Shoke also touched on sexual abuse in the SANDF, stating, “There has been publications and newspapers about sexual abuse in the defence force and we said ‘okay, maybe we cannot investigate ourselves, let us bring people to come and investigate and where we find it, we will deal with those individuals’ because we do not allow people to abuse women in the defence force”.
Shoke highlighted the successes of the SANDF, saying, “When the chips are down, it is this defence force that gets called to come and help. When there were floods in Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Malawi, it is this defence force that helped the people of Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe. And I’m proud to say, your defence force, on Friday, they [SANDF] were handing over bridges in Zimbabwe, that’s how good they are.”
In concluding, Shoke stated, “As we approach the festive season, I would like to thank you [members of the SANDF] for a job well done. Go home to your families and be at peace, at peace with yourselves because you can only find peace with others if you are at peace with yourself.”
The 2019 SANDF Thanksgiving Ceremony revealed that despite major criticism for sexual exploitation and abuse cases, the possibility of the South African Air Force becoming an air wing and a dwindling defence budget, the SANDF are thankful for what they have accomplished and been given in 2019.