This Thursday will see a low key, but important, ceremony at the Ditsong Museum of Military History in Johannesburg to commemorate a new permanent home for a foundation stone steeped in South African naval history.
The stone was put into position by the then mayor of Johannesburg, Clr. J.S. Fotheringham, in July 1938 as the foundation stone for the Navy League building at Wemmer Pan in the city’s southern suburbs. This building became the Naval Cadet Base and after World War Two it became the first inland Naval Reserve Base for the SA Naval Forces of the then SA Defence Force (SADF).
The foundation stone and a dilapidated and vandalised building is all that remains of the once proud Navy Reserve Unit – SAS RAND. Determined not to let it disappear the last Officer Commanding, Commander David Kaufman, approached all and sundry in an effort to move the foundation stone to a place where it would be a part of South Africa’s military history. He received no response to pleas sent to the Departments of Defence and Public Works nor from the Commander-in-Chief of the SA National Defence Force, President Jacob Zuma.
Speaking ahead of this week’s ceremony at the museum in Saxonwold, Johannesburg, Kaufman said he was not the only person involved in the relocation effort.
“I just kept on hammering away until people listened and started to care enough to offer help. I must make special mention of Johnathan Meyer and his company, GlobeSec (Global Security Consultants). He was – and is – a major contributor and his efforts as well as those of others who have ensured the stone has been removed and properly cleaned ahead of its repositioning at the military history museum where it will serve as a permanent reminder of what the Navy Reserve was, as well as the SA Navy’s link to the City of Johannesburg,” Kaufman said. “After all the Unit was a founder member of the Freedom Regiments Association in Johannesburg”.
The unveiling of the foundation stone is scheduled for the 27th of November 2014, 10 years to the day the Unit was decommissioned.
Kaufman said the unveiling would be low key – “certainly not a military parade”.
“Invitations have been sent to past members of SAS Rand via the Naval Officers’ Association and the event has also been mentioned on facebook. People checking on the SAS Rand page will know about it,” he said.