DURBAN – A few thousand people braved Durban’s inclement weather to witness the South African National Defence force stage its annual Armed Forces Parade.
The rain poured as bands played, soldiers marched, artillery pieces were towed and lorries carrying tanks and armoured cars drove past President Jacob Zuma as he took the salute.
An assortment of aircraft ranging from the South African Airforce’s Silver Falcons aerobatic display team to helicopters and Hercules transport planes were on display.
Roads in and around Durban were closed to cater for the annual event, which last year was held in Port Elizabeth.
Zuma said Armed Forces Day provided the opportunity to promote a better understanding of the country’s military forces with the public and its role in defending the country.
“Our soldiers get out of the barracks and showcase to the people they are serving and protecting, the capability of the Defence Force and its state-of-the-art equipment.”
Armed Forces Day is staged annually on the anniversary of the sinking of the SS Mendi in the English Channnel, which sunk with the loss of lives of 616 South Africans. Most of those were Africans who had volunteered to fight in World War I.
Zuma paid tribute to the members of the SANDF, saying that their services were greatly appreciated.
He said not only were the forces there for combat duty, but also played a role in the development of the country as well as helping in the event of natural disasters.
He said that the country would continue to play a role in peacekeeping missions in a bid to attain peace on the African continent.
Later the forces put on a display, showcasing their capabilities to the general public.
– African News Agency (ANA)