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Military displays draw massive crowds

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Ramaphosa confirmed that he would be back in Kimberley for the main event later this week

CELEBRATIONS: The new president of South African, Cyril Ramaphosa, will be in Kimberley again later this week when the city hosts national Armed Forces Day.

KIMBERLEY is in the midst of a military invasion as the city prepares to host national Armed Forces Day later this week.

While the main celebrations will only be commencing on Wednesday, spectacular military displays at the AR Abass Stadium drew massive crowds throughout the weekend as the Armed Forces Fan Park exposed thousands of visitors to the multitude of career opportunities available in the defence force.

Daily exhibitions, including free-fall demonstrations by the special forces, drill artillery by the army, a bridge-laying demonstration, precision drill by navy officers, a gun run, a mock attack, aerobatic and formation flying, as well as fast roping, rappelling and extraction, proved very popular among spectators.

An estimated 1 200 pupils per day took part in sporting activities/clinics at several locations in and around the city, while a music concert at the Mittah Seperepere Convention Centre on Saturday evening also proved a resounding success.

However, arguably the highlight of the weekend was yesterday morning’s interfaith service at the convention centre, when thousands of members of the armed forces were addressed by President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Ramaphosa, accompanied by the Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, the premier of the Northern Cape, Sylvia Lucas and the chief of the SANDF, General Solly Shoke, thanked members for their service and he confirmed that he would be back in Kimberley for the main event later this week.

Wednesday’s Armed Forces Day will include a wreath-laying ceremony and parade at the World War I Memorial in Du Toitspan Road, to pay respect and homage to the crew the SS Mendi, the biggest sea disaster ever suffered by the South African Navy.

The ceremony will be followed by a parade through the streets of Kimberley, comprising a flag company, a gun carriage, marching columns, military bands, mechanised columns with hundreds of vehicles and a fly-past by the SA Air Force.

“On behalf of the Sol Plaatje Local Municipality, we wish to welcome to Kimberley not only the new commander-in-chief but all members from the various branches of the armed forces,” said municipal spokesperson, Sello Matsie, yesterday.

“It is real privilege to be hosting this prestigious annual event, along with the newly sworn in president, especially at this exciting time in our country’s history.

“We would like to wish all our visitors a pleasant stay and would also like to extend a vote of thanks to the various branches of the armed forces for their contribution to the public and our nation.”