A memorable and Breath-taking displays by the SANDF during the Opening of the Rand Show

By Mr Malose Malema
Photos by Mr Katiso Mabuza

 Friday 30 March 2018 finally arrived and with it came the much-anticipated participation of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF).

Speaking during the opening parade Chief Joint Operations (CJOPS) Lt Gen Barney Hlatshwayo promised fireworks for the hundreds of people gathered at 2018 Rand show.

He said: “The Rand show serves as a proper platform for the SANDF to reach out to the South African citizens. And therefore we welcome this opportunity with open arms. There is no bigger private platform that might give the SANDF a chance to demonstrate and showcase its capabilities than the Rand Show.

Hlatshwayo said the SANDF has a state-of-the-art military exhibition and demonstrations comprising of land, air and sea artillery.

He said: “This year: 2018 is the year of former president Nelson Rolihlahla Mandel’s centenary. Therefore, the SANDF will reach out to the little ones who will be visiting the Rand Show and thus respond to the wise words of Madiba when he said that our children are the rock for the foundation of our future, our greatest assets as a nation. One day they are going to be the leaders of this country, the creators of our national wealth who will then care and protect our people.”

Lt Gen Hlatshwayo further said that The Rand Show provides a platform for the selfless men and women in uniform to interact with their fellow countrymen of diverse backgrounds and thus educate them about the heavy responsibility that soldiers carry on their shoulders in a dangerous quest of defending and protecting South Africa’s integrity.

Soon the anticipation from those attending the event was over as the first demonstration of the SANDF’s seven-year participation in the Rand show got under way. The entire demonstrations of the SANDF could not be fitted into just one morning (11:00) event. So other programmes had to be moved into the afternoon session starting at 14:50.

However the early exercise started with a mock attack demonstration. It consisted of the following personnel: 500 Squadron from Pretoria and the 7 Medical Battalion also from the capital city.

The exercise scenario was design to showcase the defence force’s battle capability and it was based on a demonstration of “rebels” staging an attack. 

After the rebels had assumed their positions and started firing, a welcome blast kick-started the demonstration. Then all aspects of diffusing and disarming of the enemy were included. These included an Infantry Core consisting of Paratroopers and Engineers from Bloemfontein, Mock Infantry and Meganites Infantry and the Motor Platoon were also used.

The Injured Pilot Exercise took place on top of the roof. It was simulated by both the 500 Squadron and 7 Medical Battalion both from Pretoria. This exercise took the audiences to the rescue efforts of the SANDF when one or more of their rescue pilots gets injured in the battle field.

Later the 44 Parachute Regiment led by Warrant Officer Kasu Makabele took to the sky and all four men made a safe landing to the jubilation of spectators of approximately 500. The morning’s proceedings ended with a fly-past courtesy of the South African Air Force.

The afternoon session comprised of a simulation of an intruder in the Kruger National Park. The demonstration came courtesy of the SA Army Specialised Infantry Capability (SAASIC) unit from Potchefstroom in the North West. This specialised unit provide horse-mounted infantry, motorcyclists, dog handlers and visual tracking capabilities to the SANDF in a wide variety of disciplines and for area defence purposes.

Members of this component are qualified equestrian, dog handlers, motorcyclists and visual trackers. Their responsibilities and required skills vary widely as they deploy on the border protection tasking Operation Corona, as well as in detection, guarding, sentry duties, search and rescue, and reconnaissance in support of other units.

During the exercise, spectators had a rare chance of seeing the SANDF’s Canine unit in action. Once they smelled blood, these dogs goes for it and would not let go until instructed by equally capable handlers to do so.

There was also a single and double horse demonstration. The demonstration was carried out to show and appreciate the good and dangerous work done by the horses tasked with borderline guarding.

The Kruger national Park exercise took the audiences to the truth behind the real happenings of cross-border crime. Since there are rivers and vegetation along some of Mzansi’s border lines, the terrain can only be reached on horseback or via motor-bikes.

Apart from this, members of the South African Military Police from Thaba-Tshwane, demonstrated their capability in a rescue mission of the kidnapped minister.

The demonstrations were so inspiring to the 16-year-old Thato Mokgosi who said his main dream is to join the SA Air Force because he loves the discipline in the SANDF. Thato’s sentiments were also shared by Johan Rambo who is the aspiring SA Navy member.

The teenagers were more inspired at the sight of minister of defence when she was conducting a military walk about. Ms Nosiviwe Mapisa-Ngakula joined proceedings at a later stage and was clearly pleased with the organisation and the entire display of the SANDF’s entire military hardware.

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