Kimberley to host Armed Forces Day next year

Armed Forces Day next year will be held in Kimberley, capital of the Northern Cape, with a week’s worth of military events centred around February 21. The 2017 edition of Armed Forces Day was staged in Durban and also marked the centenary of the sinking of the SS Mendi. This is the day chosen as Armed Forces Day in South Africa after earlier suggestions it be marked on December 16, the day of the founding of the ANC’s armed wing, Umkhonto we Sizwe. Estimates are the Durban event cost more than R50 million but it is expected Armed Forces Day 2018 will be less because there will be none of the larger SA Navy vessels on hand. The event itself is seen as a good exercise of the SA National Defence Force’s logistic capabilities and also provides a platform to show off the various careers in the South African military. Host service for Armed Forces Day 2018 is the SA Air Force, as per SANDF Chief, General Solly Shoke, who indicated each service will have a turn at hosting the event and also that it would go to each of the country’s nine provinces. This ensures all South Africans have the opportunity to get up close and personal with “their defence force”. President Jacob Zuma, who is SANDF Commander-in-Chief, traditionally attends the main Armed Forces Day parade and, if called on, presents medals.

Previous Armed Forces Day events and parades have been held at Pretoria (Atteridgeville) in 2013, Bloemfontein (2014), Potchefstroom (2015) and Port Elizabeth (2016). Limpopo, Mpumalanga and Western Cape will host the event over the next three years before another provincial rotation starts.

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