“The liberties we enjoy in this country have not come to us easily and we are prepared to make sacrifices to maintain them. Sometimes, that could mean making the ultimate sacrifice.”
Commanding Officer of 6 South African Infantry (6 SAI) Battalion Lieutenant-Colonel MA Saki was speaking at a wreath-laying ceremony at 6 SAI on Friday 25 May to honour fallen soldiers. The occasion was also to welcome back members of the Battalion from United Nations peacekeeping duties.
According to defenceweb.co.za South Africa is one of 125 countries contributing to United Nations peace missions worldwide. Its contribution is currently limited only to the Democratic Republic of Congo where 1 156 soldiers, 203 of them female, are part of the world body’s largest peacekeeping mission, MONUSCO.
Grocott’s Mail has been unable to confirm details of 6SAI’s latest deployment. During past missions they have formed part of the UN Force Intervention Brigade, whose mission is to protect civilians and consolidate peace in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
“I would like us to honour all the fallen soldiers during peacekeeping operations in Africa,” Saki said at the ceremony, which took place on one of the army base’s smaller parade grounds and was attended by VIPs including Makana Mayor Nomhle Gaga and GOC of the South African Infantry Formation, General Rudzani Maphwanya.
“Peacekeeping is becoming more and more dangerous,” Saki said. “All too often, our personnel are targeted by armed groups. In some areas where the United Nations operates, our blue flag has gone from being a shield to being a target.”
Saki said the United Nations was doing everything possible to protect civilians and create conditions for lasting peace.
“We honour all who have fallen in battle to preserve our way of life. And we will say proudly as a unit, ‘We remember them.’
Saki said he was inspired every day by South Africa’s men and women in uniform – “by their sense of purpose and their character”.
The ceremony took place the day after 6SAI and First City Regiment exercised their Freedom of the City privilege with a parade in the city centre, hosted by the City’s Mayor, Councillor Nomhle Gaga.
The Freedom of the City parade on Thursday 24 May 2018
Photos by Steven Lang, Ettione Ferreira and Sue Maclennan
Wreath-laying ceremony at 6SAI on Friday 25 May 2018
Photos by Sue Maclennan