Amn Tebogo E.
Kekana, AD ASTRA Magazine
Since the Air Force Gymnasium’s (AF Gym) foundation on 01
December 1951 and the first intake of 133 recruits, it has
come a long way and has grown from strength to strength. Now
the AF Gym’s training facility at Valhalla (opposite
Swartkop airfield) is moving to the Boston complex at AFB
Hoedspruit in the Limpopo Province. This follows the serious
sinkhole/dolomite problems that have condemned the bungalows
and most buildings at AF Gym.
According to the
Officer Commanding, Col M.N. Sakwe, “other reasons range
from the fact that we want to up the Air Force standard in
terms of moving these trainees away from the pressures of
the city. There will be better control mechanisms put in
place in terms of security and a soldier will be forced to
behave like one as the BMT programme will progress for 6
months in the near future. Thus, there will only be two
intakes per year”.
The move is expected to materialize in two phases, the first
phase being the Basic Military Training wing that is to
arrive on 27 November 2008 and training is to commence on 7
January 2009. The last two courses at the Gym (BMT and 2
Squadron – AF Gym) are to be completed by the end of
November this year while the last one (3 Squadron – AF Gym)
is expected to join them in middle of next year.
“With just a few improvements, training facilities at
Hoedspruit will be able to cater for more than 500 students
with adequate accommodation for instructors. There is
however need identified for re-training of instructors and
as a result they will be taken on such courses to
familiarize themselves with the new curriculum” stated the
This move however has somehow raised concerns especially
with instructors who have families in Gauteng. They were
reluctant because they perceived Hoedspruit to be rural and
slow. However, the OC has taken it upon himself to take some
instructors to see first hand that with time they will
adjust and learn to embrace change.
WO2 H. Jafarie from (3 Squadron – AF Gym) stated that one of
the fondest memories he has from the 4 years of his stay at
AF Gym is witnessing the young people realizing their
potential and going beyond in what they thought they are
capable of. He said that he was especially proud during this
year’s first intake when an obese female managed to make it
in-spite of her size because she knew how much she wanted to
reach her goal.
however upbeat souls like Amn Mmabatho Kopeledi who is a
trainee at 3 Squadron – AF Gym, who is eager to finish her
course as this will mark the end of Aerial and Ground
Protection (AGP) phase in her life. Not only is she the best
overall student so far, she just cannot wait to begin with
her instructors course. She is adamant that she will make it
as she confides to AD ASTRA that this is not just a job to
her, but something that was predetermined by the higher
power for her. “I am proud to be part of history in the
making and to those who didn’t get the chance to train at AF
Gym – those guys missed out on a lot!!!