President Ramaphosa pays tribute to South Africa’s military

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South Africa’s new President Cyril Ramaphosa paid tribute to the country’s military, South African National Defense Forces (SANDF), for being great defenders of the people and constitution.

Ramaphosa delivered the keynote address at the annual Armed Forces Day celebration in Kimberley, South Africa.

“When we look at our armed forces we see a manifestation of the South Africa that belongs to all of us, black and white, which our Constitution directs us to build. This day is a reminder that our soldiers are an integral part of us, not an external force. You are bedrock of our communities. We dare not fail to appreciate how the peace we enjoy lives alongside the constant vigilance and readiness that enables you to keep us as safe as we are.” Ramaphosa said.

This year’s event also commemorates the SS Mendi tragedy where hundreds of soldiers, most of them black South Africans, died in 1917 when their vessel sank in the English Channel.

The soldiers were on their way to fight in World War I. It remains the greatest wartime disaster ever suffered by South Africans.

“It is a day on which we remember the bravery of soldiers prepared to fight in a war that was not theirs. It is recorded that as the SS Mendi sank, the soldiers chose to die with dignity and honor. This day has become a day that allows us to remember all men and women who have paid the ultimate price in defense of freedom, peace and justice. It reminds us that blood was spilled by many of our people to guarantee us our freedom and dignity.” Ramaphosa said.

The day is also an opportunity for invited dignitaries, guests and the public to witness the might of the defense force.

The celebrations also seek to expand public understanding of the role of the SANDF and further demonstrate the capability and contribution to of the country’s armed forces to society.

The South African National Defense Force contributes to regional and continental security and provides support in times of crisis and disaster.

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