This six-day event started last Saturday in Mandela Park Sports Stadium, Khayelitsha. There were also events and displays at the V&A Waterfront and a night shooting exercise at Sunrise Beach in Muizenberg.
The event was to honour the men and women killed in the line of duty and those who continue to serve the country. The event also commemorates the sinking of the SS Mendi on February 21, 1917 after a collision with a much larger vessel, the SS Darro. More than 600 South African men perished in the icy waters of the English Channel, most of whom were from the SA Native Labour Corps and 33 who were crew members.
Among the platforms on display were helicopters - the Agusta A109, Oryx, Rooivalk and Super Lynx. The Gripen and Hawk jet fighters and the C130 also flew, with a highlight being the deployment of flares during the night shoot at Muizenburg. The Silver Falcons Display Team also thrilled the crowds throughout the week.
On Thursday, following the ceremonial rituals, the SA Air Force put on an impressive display with flypasts by Hawks, Gripens, PC-7's , the Rooivalk, Oryx, Agusta 109, Lynx helicopters in formation and the Silver Falcons in formation with a C-130.
President Cyril Ramaphosa then took the salute from an impressive Military Parade, comprising some 8500 troops from each of the branches and a mechanised procession of vehicles including Ratels, Rooikat, G6 Self-propelled Howitzers, Olifant Tanks to name but a few. Marine Drive in Table View was lined with spectators who showed their enthusiasm with cheers and applause as the column rolled by.
Following the parade, the spectators were treated to a weapons capability demonstration, with Special Forces storming a building on the beach to free hostages, after which the jets and the Rooivalk ran strafing runs resulting in some impressive explosions which had spectators screaming in delight. The Oryx and Agusta then demonstrated the evacuation of an injured soldier.
Despite some controversy on social media regarding the environmental impact of the week's events, I believe that the SANDF did well to put on an event that will inspire many youngsters to pursue a career in the forces.