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Mr Dlamini further said that the event also provides an opportunity to bring the SANDF closer to the people, expose society to the SANDF and for the youth to learn about careers in the SANDF. He said: “It is important to celebrate the lives and bravery of those members who serve their country with dedication as well as those who still serve with loyalty, dedication and diligence. The citizens of this country must be educated and informed of the commitment of these former and current men and women of the SANDF. We do all this with a clear understanding that the SANDF is the people’s national defence force.”
In 2012, the Commander-in-Chief of the SANDF, President Jacob Zuma, proclaimed that 21 February of each year will be observed and commemorated as Armed Forces Day. Thus, the Chief of the SANDF, Gen Solly Shoke, authorised the hosting of the celebration in Kimberley and the ceremonial commemoration of the sinking of the SS Mendi to be held concurrently.
Apart from the main event on the 21 February, the programme, which will stretched over a week will comprised a range of activities, including a Military Capability Demonstration at De Brug Training Area in Bloemfontein which will include a static firepower exhibition and mechanised attack with air support. Members of the public are invited to this event on 18 February, while another capability demonstrations will be held on 20 February for invited guests only.
It is anticipated that more than 10 000 people per day will visit the Fan Park at AR Abass Stadium in Kimberley from 15 to 21 February 2018. The Park will have a career village, Services and Division villages, showcasing the SANDF capabilities to the community at large and the various career opportunities that exist in the SANDF.
Ten music events will take place over the periods 12 to 15 February 2018 at schools around Kimberley area, such as Roodepan High School, Seochoareng Assisted Living Centre, Platfontein School, Mayibuye Cultural Centre, Pescodia Secondary School, Kimberley Hospital Complex, Retlameleng School for the Disabled, New Park Shopping Centre, Diamantveld High School and Green Point High School.
An estimated 1 200 learners per day will take part in sporting activities/clinics to be held at several locations between 16 and 20 February. A music event including military bands and choirs will take place at Mittah Seperepere Convention Centre on 17 February, followed by an interfaith church service at the same venue on the 18 February.
The main event on 21 February will commence with a wreath laying ceremony officiated by President Zuma at World War I Memorial in Du Toitspan Road to pay tribute to the men who perished during the sinking of the SS Mendi in 21 February 1917. It will be followed by a parade through the streets of Kimberley, comprising a flag company, a gun carriage, marching columns, military bands, mechanised columns with hundreds of vehicles and a fly-past by the SA Air Force.
A total of 6 525 SANDF members will participate along with 41 aircraft from SA Air Force, 222 specialised vehicles, 374 operational vehicles, 66 buses and 60 motorcycles. According to Brig Gen Kobus Butler from the SA Air Force, the SA Air Force aircrafts will include Hawk and Gripen, C-130, CASA 212, King Air transports, and Rooivalk, Agusta A109 and BK 117 helicopters as well as Pilatus PC-7 trainers, SAAF Museum aircrafts as well as performance by Silver Falcons Aerobatic display team.