HONOUR BESTOWED ON MILITARY VETERANS
Article by Cpl Lebogang Ramaboea, Ad Astra magazine, photos by
Sgt Morris Sekgothe
President Jacob Zuma, commander-in-chief of the South African
National Defence Force (SANDF) and his predecessor Thabo Mbeki,
on 6 December 2012 at Air Force Base (AFB) Waterkloof were
bestowed with Platinum Class II medals. This was the 3rd
military veterans parade.
Andrew Mlangeni presenting President Jacob Zuma with Platinum
Class II award
Previous recipients of Platinum Class II medal included Chief
Albert Luthuli, Oliver Tambo and former president Nelson
Mandela. The other comrades of the Luthuli detachments were
awarded Platinum Class III, Bravery in Gold, Merit Gold,
Sabotage Campaign Medal and Luthuli Commemorative Medal. An
estimate of 106 medals was handed out to the contingent on the
Senior combatants recognised were former cabinet ministers Zola
Skweyiya, Pallo Jordan together with brothers Aziz and Essop
Pahad. The list also included speaker of parliament, Max Sisulu,
presidential spokesperson, Mac Maharaj and stalwart, Winnie
Madikizela-Mandela. Posthumously awards were given to Alfred
Nzo, James Kati and Gert Sibande amongst others deceased
Madikizela-Mandela, said she was elated to be respected by her
peers while still alive. “Many of us fought tirelessly for this
freedom”, added the stalwart.
Winnie Madikizela-Mandela sharing a moment with President Zuma
after receiving Merit Gold medal
Andrew Mlangeni, a member of parliament (MP) for the ruling
party, gave medals to both Zuma and Mbeki on behalf of Nelson
Mandela, the first commander-in-chief of Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK)
an armed wing of African National Congress (ANC). President Zuma
announced plans by government to build a heroes acre and a
museum to preserve the rich history of military veterans and
their contribution to the struggle for liberation. In addition,
the Defence Centre of Advanced Training in Phelindaba, Tshwane,
will be turned into a training academy for veterans’ who qualify
to be taught new skills.
Senior citizens of the republic acknowledged for their bravery
in the mist of 16 Days of Activism for no Violence Against Women
Furthermore, the president said the support for military
veterans should not be limited to the Department of Military
Veterans (DMV) alone. He added that about 700 military veterans
would be absorbed into the Department of Water Affairs through
the working for water project.
The president emphasised that “military veterans are not a
charity or welfare case but men and women of honour. This is not
as a favour or a gesture, but indeed, as a constitutional and
legal obligation to which we are committed to”. Zuma also said
South Africans must restore their dignity by acknowledging them
as patriots, those who were once vilified as terrorists.
The medal ceremony sought to erase forever any tag that could
have attempted to brand them as outlaws. “By the same token, we
are declaring through these medals that never again shall we
allow our country to be at war with itself”, said Zuma.
President Jacob Zuma urged veterans to record their experiences
and stories in exile by writing books and making films.
SA Air Force members of parade for Military Veterans at Air
Force Base Waterkloof
Recognition was given to MK members only. The state president,
Jacob Zuma, who also received a medal, said: “members from
former Azanian People’s Liberation Army (APLA) and Azanian
National Liberation Army (AZANLA) veterans would be honoured at
a later date”. The DMV was created in 2009, which saw the
promulgation of the military veterans act 18, 2011.
Under the current medium term expenditure framework, the DMV has
been allocated R1, 6 billion. Already, over 2000 military
veterans are estimated to be benefiting from free health care
Minister of Defence and Military Veterans (MOD&MV), Nosiviwe
Mapisa-Nqakula, said: “celebrating both Zuma and Mbeki gave the
day a special meaning”. Her deputy, Thabang Makwetla, added
that: “as we rebuild the nation, we shall remain forever
indebted to this generation of men and women”. He further noted
that the DMV aims to preserve and profile the broad military
history of South Africa’s erstwhile military organisations.
Moreover, deputy minister Makwetla said the apartheid regime
awarded former South African Defence Force (SADF) members who
The parade had all the pomp that included a 21-gun salute,
flypass by Silver Falcons aircraft and a drill display by the
four arms of service.
Chaplain General Andrew Jamangile called on spectators to
observe a moment of silent for 11 South African Air Force (SAAF)
members who died in a fatal aircraft accident. The Dakota, also
known as C-47TP, of 35-squadron crushed over Giant Castle within
the Drakensburg mountain range the previous day.