In 2012, the President of the Republic of South Africa (RSA) and Commander-in–Chief of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) proclaimed that 21 February each year will be observed and commemorated as Armed Forces Day (AFD).
President Jacob Zuma will officiate in this 6th segment of Armed Forces Day celebrations. As the main functionary, he will take the salute from the South African National Defence Force during the military parade. It is a day on which the South African population honours men and women of the South African National Defence Force by affirming its support and gratitude to them for upholding the constitution of the Republic and defending the territorial integrity of the Republic and protecting its people.
The Chief of the South Africa National Defence Force(C SANDF), General Solly Shoke has authorised the hosting of the Armed Forces Day Celebration 2017 and the Centenary commemoration of the sinking of the SS Mendi to be held concurrently on Tuesday, 21 February 2017 at Moses Mabhida Stadium in eThekwini, KwaZulu Natal Province and the English Channel in England respectively. The proceedings are scheduled to commence at 10h00.
The Armed Forces Day was implemented to achieve several objectives which are as follows:
- To unite all South Africans behind the SANDF.
- To allow the SANDF an opportunity to interact with communities.
- To expand public understanding of the military’s role and its purpose to society.
- To showcase the latest military equipment and technologies used to protect the Republic and its Citizens.
- To demonstrate the military combat readiness against threats and as well as to support government during peace time.
During the AFD 2017 parade and the centenary commemoration of the sinking of the SS Mendi on 21 February 1917, the President will lay a wreath in honour of the fallen heroes of the South African Native Labour Corps (SANLC) who perished on the morning of Saturday, 21 February 1917.
Among the black Africans lost were some prominent men such as the Pondoland chiefs Henry Bokleni, Dokoda Richard Ndamase, Mxonywa Bangani, Mongameli and the Reverend Isaac Wauchope Dyobha.
The wreath laying ceremony will be followed by a medal parade wherein the Commander-in-Chief will bestow various military medals to deserving SANDF members including the awarding of a 40 Years Service medal to the Chief of the SANDF, General Solly Shoke.
Issued by GCIS on behalf of the Department of Defence