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Article by Cpl Tebogo Kekana, Ad Astra Magazine, Photos by Cpl Mabelina Mokoatle and Cpl Musiki Singo, 5ASU

Sitting on the Veranda of Circus Circus Café, one cant help but eavesdrop on the public opinion on the aircraft that keep their eyes gazed on the sea action as the South African Air Force prepares to dazzle them with their maneuvers at the capability demonstration near the New Beach on 20 February 19 February 2017.

The SAAF entertaining the public by showing off its, helicopter mass fly past

Heads are turning with each aircraft that passes and Google seems to be doing the most when it comes to the public checking which aircraft is passing by. The debate on which one is the fastest and which is their favourite is dulled out by children who competes on whose father is going to get them their fastest and biggest jets. These opinions can only signal one thing, that it is the all systems go for the celebration of Armed Forces Day. The Navy vessels can be spotted from afar as parents point them out amid the mist.

Military vehicles and thousands of troops have been visible on all corners of eThekwini and many in uniform have been answering questions pertaining their uniforms. The tents at the Simunye Camp cannot be missed for anything, they have cropped up like mushrooms that cant be ignored right in the middle of town, at the old drive-in.

Cpl Gentsane from Directorate human Resources Services welcoming the learners into the SAAF stall

This being the sixth annual international celebration is a build up to the Armed Forces Day and has attracted the country’s finest military enthusiasts from every corner of the world. This is the first time Durban hosts this event, and the SANDF leadership has been on record saying that they will leave a good impression, especially on Tuesday, when the main event, the parade, takes place.

Siboniso Nyembe couldn’t wait to upload all her pictures, to invite al her Facebook friends to  the fan park, where she posed inside an Augusta with a flight engineer. “This is the place to be, we were given food pack, we brushed shoulders with very handsome guys from the Air Force and I cannot wait for all my friends to get here so we can all turn up, I have already tagged all of them towards where its going down.”

Learners got informed about the plenty career opportunities in the SAAF from FIRE AND Rescue Section

The fan park opened its gates to thousands of learners who availed themselves to learn more about what military life entails, and what career paths they can take in uniform. The young blood seized the opportunity to ask all the questions they had and were given a chance to see demonstrations and tactical responses from all Arms of Service. They said that in their minds, the military is portrayed as something that is inaccessible to them, scary and dangerous. “Vinesh Moodley who brought her 9-year-old twin sons said, “My sons were pleasantly surprised to see Indians in unform, people who look like themselves in service of the country, needless to say how mind-blown they were of the equipment they saw and touched. The simulator from the Air Force seems to have captured their interests because we spent a good five minutes trying to get them off it.”   

The learners expressed their feelings after career expo

All learners raised their hands when asked who will be attending the Armed Forces Shooting Capability Demonstration that is taking place this evening, 20 February 2017 at the Blue Lagoon. Upon hearing that there would be firing of the tracer rounds from the specialized military weapons and a mini war, Thabile Zungu said, “for the first time in a long time, I am actually looking forward to a Monday. Bring it in soldiers, who knows, maybe one could get a “Bae woMbutho” Zulu phrase for a military husband.”

On Tuesday, 21 February 2017, the President of the Republic and the Commander in Chief of the SANDF, Mr Jacob Zuma will take the salute from all on parade, and further bestow medals to honour those who excelled in carrying out their country’s mandate. The President is also expected to lay a wreath to recognize the 616 soldiers of the South African Native Labour Corps    (SANLC) who died on February 21 1917, when the SS Mendi steamship sank in the English Channel on the way to France.

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