National Armed Forces Day will be commemorated today with a mass military parade in Port Elizabeth. It takes place alongside the 99th commemoration of the sinking of the troopship SS Mendi in the English Channel on this day in 1917.
Over 600 South Africans, mostly black troops, died when the ship sank while taking them to France to participate in World War One.
President Jacob Zuma proclaimed February 21 as the Armed Forces day in 2012. The aim was to give honour to soldiers and those who died in service. Over 4 000 army personnel have set up camp in Port Elizabeth for a week to raise awareness about military services as a build up to this day.
President Zuma is expected to lay a wreath at the SS Mendi Memorial in New Brighton Township this morning. He will then make his way to the military parade at the beachfront as the commander-in chief of the SANDF. The parade will include soldiers, airmen and sailors. A 21 gun salute and a flypast will also take place to SANDF, hundreds of expected onlookers.
The last part of the ceremony will be a drive past of about 80 military vehicles and boats at the ocean. It will all end with a medal ceremony where President Zuma will be handing over medals to approximately 1 000 SANDF members.