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SAAF HQ Unit celebrates persons with disabilities
Article by Capt Ntokozo Ntshangase; photos by WO2 David Nomtshongwana

The South African Air Force Headquarters (SAAF HQ) Unit and other Directorates celebrated Casual Day on 02 September 2016 at SAAF HQ Sports Ground. The event was meant to promote awareness regarding persons with disabilities and as a fundraising campaign. The theme for the day was “Up Your Game”, which was derived from this year’s Government national theme. With only R10 per sticker, members earned the right to dress up in the outfit of their choice, from the fun to the fantastical.

In line with the theme and in support of the campaign, each Directorate and the Unit entered a potjiekos and various game competitions with each participant contributing R100 towards the campaign and prizes for the day. The Officer Commanding SAAF HQ Unit, Col Wessie Janse van Rensburg who officially opened the activities, remarked that the day was not about winning, but to “Up our Game” in terms of awareness and sensitivity towards people with disabilities. The competitions were complemented by educational efforts meant to share information on the variety of disabilities

                                         Directorate Combat Systems provided insight on what causes sleeping disorder

Amongst many disabilities that participants had to research and present on for the day, were: Acquired brain injury, Muteness, Sleeping disorder, Dementia, Autism disorder, Traumatic brain injury, Respiratory disorder, Epilepsy, Hearing impairment and Personality disorder. Director Supply and Support, Brig Gen Daniel Malakoane explained the relevance in understanding what causes such disabilities. He also mentioned that SANDF is not immune to such disabilities. As such, he added, “the day creates appreciation for full inclusion of persons with disabilities whilst creating camaraderie in the office and bringing much needed relief at the workplace”. The event’s Master of Ceremony, Maj Joan-Paul Paulsen, also echoed the same sentiments. He pointed out that while the day was a success in terms of awareness and fundraising, more could still be done. For him, a meaningful awareness and recognition would be when persons with disabilities are invited to showcase their abilities. They could be utilised, he elaborated further, as “ parade commanders and programme directors depending on one’s disability, instead of subjecting them to some hidden corner away from other people”. He cautioned though that such should be done with utmost sensitivity to their dignity.

                              516 Sqn emerged as potjiekos winnners   /   All in the name of sport and support for those living with disabilities

Apart from raising funds and awareness, SAAF HQ Unit utilised the event to foster camaraderie and cohesion amongst members through various disabled sport activities namely: blind soccer, blind mini golf, obstacles course, charades, chins and wheel chair race. Winners are depicted on the table below:

            Chief Executive Officer of Curamus, Mr Kobus Swart expressed
              delight for assistance they recieved as the association


1st place

2nd place

3rd place

Best Dress (Male)

Brig Gen Butler

Best Dress (Female)

Sgt Mashala

Disability Presentation

D Combat S


Wellness/Proc CI

Blind Mini Golf




Blind Soccer








Obstacle Course



D Combat S

Wheel Chair

516 Sqn




516 Sqn

The proceeds from the competition, estimated at R14,000  went to Curamus Association. The association was formed in the early 1990s to cater for the needs of disabled members of the SANDF both uniform and civilians. According to the Chief Executive Officer of Curamus, Mr Kobus Swart, the association provides physical, financial, social and development support to military veterans and their dependents. Mr Swart expressed delight on behalf of the association and explained that they will use the donation to buy “wheelchair tyres, special mattresses, cushions and any other products related to the member’s disability, especially when such products are not available at military hospitals”. The association also supports the Department of Occupation Therapy at 1 Military Hospital with regards to rehabilitation programmes and other related projects. In his conclusion remarks, Mr Swart assured everyone present that their actions, no matter how small, are making a huge difference in the lives of those living with disabilities.



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