This week the SA Air Force (SAAF) welcomed nine newly minted first lieutenants to the ranks of its aircrew.
The new pilots on course 123, along with seven flight engineers, an air loadmaster and a radio operator, received their brevets and half-brevets from Lieutenant General Zakes Msimang, SAAF Chief, during a wings parade at AFB Langebaanweg in Western Cape on Wednesday.
Addressing the parade, he congratulated those who were now part of the “SAAF’s proud flying fraternity” and urged the new wearers of wings and half-wings to “grow to be airmen with integrity”.
Msimang said discipline was “paramount and a cardinal hallmark of our lives as soldiers and it should apply equally and consistently to all aspects of our military and private lives”.
Quoting the Constitution – “the national defence force must be structured and managed as a disciplined military force” – he asked those on parade what it meant to them.
Answering himself, Msimang said: “This is a clarion call that you have to buy into in the military culture, which at its core, has discipline and patriotism as its foundation. If you have imbibed and embraced a culture of entitlement, then you are in the wrong outfit. You must understand that absence of military discipline and dignified work ethics will not be tolerated in the SAAF.
“Given government’s focus on peace, security and stability on the African continent, the SANDF is increasingly undertaking tasks to protect life, promote peace and reconciliation to give development and stability a chance. The skills and experience you have now acquired are an essential component in preparing you volunteers in the SANDF to selflessly contribute in honouring the SANDF Constitutional mandate and, if needs be, to lay down your life for the country and its national interests.”
Referring to the Defence Review, Msimang said: “the level of ambition posited in it and its corollary defence posture clearly indicates South Africa seeks to be a net exporter of security as we seek to be able to reach and intervene on the African continent”.
The candidate officers who were presented with full wings and now hold the rank of first lieutenant are NB Baloyi, JJ Blom, ACL Gosssmann, AB Gouws, T Legodi, KM Masterson, TG Mpama, TMA Nhlapo and C Paul.
Successful flight engineers are sergeants JD Mbazima, MM Modise, SP Ntseuoa, LB Manhlakwana and corporals C van Dalen, BM Nyambi and TA Sikhwivhilu. Corporal TS Nyantumbo was the lone air loadmaster who passed as was Sergeant GS Setlai on the radio operator’s course.
In November 2015, 25 newly qualified SAAF members were welcomed into the aerial arm of service at last year’s wings parade. These included five pilots, 11 flight engineers, six aerial photographers and three loadmasters.
During the 2014 wings parade Msimang awarded full brevets to 10 pilots and he was at the West Coast base the previous year to pin wings onto another 10 new additions to the SAAF pilot ranks.
The pohotgraph used to illustrate this piece was taken at a previous wings parade as the air force was not in a posotion to supply photos of this year's parade.