The annual commemoration of Armed Forces Day will be hosted by the South African Navy next month in Cape Town, presided over by President Cyril Ramaphosa. Kopano Tlape GCIS
DURBAN - The South African Navy will have the honour of hosting the annual commemoration of Armed Forces Day (AFD) presided over by President Cyril Ramaphosa in Cape Town next month.

At a media launch yesterday, Deputy Chief of the SA Navy Rear Admiral Guy Jamieson said while the event faced financial hurdles as with any state entity, the AFD was considered a worthwhile exercise for the country’s armed forces.

Armed Forces Day is in memory of the sinking of the SS Mendi in the English Channel on February 21, 1917.

The SS Mendi, carrying over 800 servicemen, most of whom were black South Africans - the SA Native Labour Corps members - was struck by another South African vessel, the much bigger SS Darro, on that day.

The idea behind Armed Forces Day is to foster closer interactions between the military and communities.

“The SANDF feels that this is a worthwhile exercise, as it forces us to test our ability to move and deploy forces across the country,” the rear admiral said.

“Last year, Minister of Defence Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula decided it should be held in Cape Town, as the honour fell on the South African Navy. The honour rotates annually across the armed forces.”

Jamieson said it was also an opportunity for the public to see the capabilities of the men and women in the armed forces, following months of planning and deployments.

AFD co-ordinator Rear Admiral Junior Grade Sammy Matshimane said: “There will be 8500 military men and women deployed, utilising 160 vehicles, excluding the strategic and historical vehicles and air craft that will be displayed during the various exercises and events.”

February 16 will see the official opening of the SANDF fan park at the Nelson Mandela Park Stadium in Khayelitsha.

Two frigates will be open to the public at the V&A Waterfront.

- THE MERCURY