SA National Defence Force Educational Trust supports more dependants

By S Sgt Itumeleng Makhubela
Photos by L Cpl Jonathan Mogano

The SA National Defence Force (SANDF) Education Trust has managed to rake in almost R4.5m during the recent fund-raising gala dinner at the Denel Irene Campus in Centurion. So far, 76 dependants on different educational levels have benefited from the trust. 
Beneficiaries are dependants of SANDF members who were killed or severely injured while on official duty subsequent to 27 April 1994, and they may apply to it to cover their educational expenses.
The Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Ms Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, explained that the SANDF Education Trust also covered civilian members killed while deployed with SANDF members subsequent to 27 April 1994.
The Minister highlighted that the incident which led to the establishment of the SANDF Education Trust was prompted by the deaths of soldiers in the Battle of Bangui in the Central African Republic (CAR). She said that she was deeply touched in that most of the members that died were bread-winners who had families to look after. The concern was the children and the spouses who were left behind to fend for themselves.
Minister Mapisa-Nqakula said: “We had to dig deep to find a long-lasting solution to cater for the educational needs of the deceased members’ children and those who are severely injured such that they cannot work. The Chief of the SANDF, Gen Solly Shoke, took the initiative to establish the SANDF Education Trust with the aim of supporting the children of deceased soldiers regarding their educational needs.”
The Minister mentioned a lady who had deployed with the soldiers to the CAR and had managed to escape the base while carrying over a million dollars to an airport, which was where the soldiers had retreated to. She said: “This is what we call commitment and dedication to the cause. She could have lost her life trying to protect the money. The most serious question we need to ask ourselves is how we secure the future of the children who lost their parents in the service of the country.
As some of the pension and insurance pay-outs run dry we have a strong conviction that the SANDF Education Trust is the only viable option we have to ensure that the dependants of our fallen soldiers and civilians who are part of our armed forces can be educated.”
Minister Mapisa-Nqakula said the business community, and particularly the defence industry, should step up and assist in the noble task initiated by the Chief of the SANDF. She added: “Let me acknowledge that this would not have been possible if it were not for business entities and individual represented here. It is demonstration of the level of their patriotism and commitment to our country. We are proud that you have chosen to associate with us. It is my hope that all those who made contributions since the initiation of the Trust should continue to do so.”  The Minister said she believed that they had chosen the initiative to better the lives of the fallen soldiers’ dependants as a developmental approach to benefit and uplift communities.
The Chairperson of the Armscor Board, V Adm (Ret) Johannes Mudimu, said they had responded to the call made by Gen Shoke to sponsor the SANDF Education Trust gala dinner. He said they were impressed by the importance the SANDF has attached to the Trust. V Adm (Ret) Mudimu said: “Through the SANDF Education Trust the service that our men and women in uniform have so selflessly given to our people shall not be forgotten. Through the medium of this gathering we are providing a platform for the children of our heroes and heroines one day to swell the ranks of our armed forces, particularly as scientists, doctors and strategists.” V Adm (Ret) Mudimu indicated that as they gathered to raise funds for the dependants of fallen soldiers, they should pray for lasting solutions to normal learning and teaching in institutions of higher learning.     
The Chairperson of the SANDF Education Trust and the Chief of Defence Reserves, Maj Gen Roy Andersen, shared a story of a Reserve Force member who was part of the SA Irish Regiment and was caught in an ambush while deployed in the Sudan and was badly wounded, losing both his hands. He mentioned that on a visit with his staff to see him in hospital the member explained that neither he nor his wife had civilian work and he was troubled by his grave injury. Maj Gen Andersen added: “The excellent turnout tonight demonstrates that there is some sensitivity towards the needs of our soldiers. It is important that when our troops deploy, they should know that if something happens to them, their children will be educated. Even for the likes of Rifleman Plaatjies, when I said to him … Do not worry we will educate your children.”


Related photo