Picture: Courtney Africa/African News Agency (ANA)
Cape Town - Thousands of people turned out to enjoy demonstrations by the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) at its annual Armed Forces Day.

The six-day event started on Saturday in Mandela Park Sports Stadium. Khayelitsha. There were also events at the V&A Waterfront and a night shooting at Sunrise Beach in Muizenberg.

The event is to honour the men and women killed in the line of duty and those who continue to serve the country.

SANDF spokesperson Mafi Mgobozi said: “During the Armed Forces Festival, the public is afforded an opportunity to interact with the men and women in uniform and are exposed to the capabilities of our country’s state-of-the art military equipment.”

The media was invited on board the SS Amatola for the 2019 Armed Forces Day celebrations and the commemoration of the sinking of the SS Mendi. The six-day event started on Saturday. Events leading up to the main parade on Thursday in Blouberg, include a fan park at Mandela Stadium in Khayelitsha. Picture: Courtney Africa/African News Agency/ANA.
Picture: Courtney Africa/African News Agency (ANA)

Mgobozi said the Armed Forces Festival was also a platform to test the SANDF’s logistical capabilities and state of readiness.

The Armed Forces Day 2019 fan park was officially opened by SANDF Chief of Staff Vusi Masondo.

Mgobozi said the fan park was an entertaining and informative experience.

“Its state-of-the-art military hardware and capability demonstration promises to keep the public on its toes with a wide range of exhilarating activities.”

Some of the adrenalin-driven activities at the fan park included aerobatic displays by the Super Falcons, static displays of state-of-the-art military hardware, a free-falling demonstration by paratroopers, rapid bridge building demonstrations by army engineers, a mock attack demonstration by air and ground-based elements, gun run, sword drills, precision drills, a hostage release operation simulation and a martial arts demonstration.

Armed Forced Day celebrations happening across Cape Town from 16th until 21st February 2019. The event is the largest on the SANDF calendar. The demonstrations commemorate the sinking of the SS Mendi on 21 February 1917. Picture: Tracey Adams/African News Agency (ANA)
Armed Forced Day celebrations happening across Cape Town from 16th until 21st February 2019. The event is the largest on the SANDF calendar. The demonstrations commemorate the sinking of the SS Mendi on 21 February 1917. Video: Tracey Adams/African News Agency (ANA)
Picture: Tracey Adams African News Agency (ANA)

“The SA Army had an array of assets including long-range artillery guns, tanks and armoured cars, bridge-building and water purification capabilities, advanced battlefield surveillance and intelligence capabilities, ground-based air defence capabilities and battle-winning infantry skills,” Mgobozi said.

“The SA Air Force has a number of assets, comprising ground and air crew, general support staff, command and control personnel, inclusive of communication, and safety and planning elements.”

Mgobozi said that among the platforms on display are helicopters - the Agusta A109, Oryx, Rooivalk and Super Lynx. The Gripens and Hawks jet fighters and the transport fleet comprising the CASA 212, King Air and PC 12 will also feature.

The event coincides with the commemoration of the sinking of the SS Mendi on February 21, 1917, when more than 600 South African men perished in the icy waters of the English Channel, of which 607 were from the SA Native Labour Corps and 33 were crew members.

Picture: Tracey Adams/African News Agency (ANA)
Armed Forced Day celebrations happening across Cape Town from 16th until 21st February 2019. The event is the largest on the SANDF calendar. The demonstrations commemorate the sinking of the SS Mendi on 21 February 1917. Mandela Sports Stadium, Khayelitsha. Video: Tracey Adams/African News Agency(ANA)
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