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The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) Education Trust, set up a few years ago to assist with the education of children of soldiers who died in defence of their country, received another financial boost from the City of Johannesburg this week.

Johannesburg Executive Mayor Cllr Parks Tau presented the trust with a cheque for R1.296-million at a function held at the South African National Military Museum in Parktown. The money was raised during a Mayoral Charity Golf Day in 2015.

Handing over the cheque, Mayor Tau said as South Africans, “we sometimes take for granted the role that soldiers play in our democracy”.

“We hope that this [gesture] will ignite the idea that we need to celebrate our men and women who make us a safer country. These are people who have said: ‘I’m prepared to sacrifice my life so the rest of society can have a better life’,” Cllr Tau said.

“Decisions by these soldiers have been made in the service of this country. For us this is a gesture of appreciation for making a supreme sacrifice for the country.” 

Accepting the cheque, SANDF Chief of Staff General Solly Shoke said he was grateful for what the City had done.

“I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart. This gesture will go a long way,” he said.

General Shoke also lamented the lack of appreciation by the South African public of the role played by soldiers.

“It’s painful that men and women who pay the supreme price are forgotten. I wish that everyone, ordinary South Africans and people in high office, would share these sentiments. More often than not, when policies are crafted, people don’t take into consideration that we have a community within a community,” he said. 

The trust was set up in 2005 by then Johannesburg Executive Mayor Cllr Amos Masondo to support various charities and community programmes and projects in the city. The SANDF Education Trust was established in 2013 in the aftermath of the tragic events that led to the killing of 14 soldiers in line of duty in the Central African Republic and following a fatal helicopter crash in the Kruger National Park to look after children of soldiers lost in service.

So far R5-million has been raised for this purpose. To date 78 families have benefited. SANDF Education Trustee Teddy Daka thanked the City and sponsors for their generosity.

“On behalf of the families, we’re very grateful. What the Mayor has shown us is a level of generosity we haven’t seen in a while in the country,” said Daka. 
The next Mayoral Charity Golf Day will take place in November.