South African Military History 

P.O. BOX 12926


The 29th Annual General Meeting of our Branch on 14th April was well attended by 37 members and 14 visitors. The Hon. Treasurer, Bob Buser, again reported that our finances are in a sound state, and our Hon. Auditor, Geoffrey Mangin, was once more confirmed in his position, as were all serving Committee Members:
Chairman: Derek O’Riley
Vice Chairman/Scribe: John Mahncke
Hon.Treasurer: Bob Buser
Members: Major Tony Gordon, Johan van den Berg, Commander Mac Bissett

Our Branch has 100 Full and Associate Members.
Anyone wishing to obtain a copy of the audited 2004 Balance Sheet is asked to contact Bob Buser at 021-689-1639 (H).

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Although we have become used to the regular and excellent talks by Helmoed Roemer-Heitman over the years on Africa’s political and military state of affairs, he exceeded our expectations this time once again.

Almost everywhere on our continent south of the Sahara, the well known scenario of political and monetary greed plays on, mainly fuelled by the desperate need for oil, with diamonds and precious metals coming second. In a way Africa is still lucky that it has no interstate wars at the moment, but the potential is still here. US and China in their search for ever more oil supplies are guilty in setting one side against the other, while al-Qaeda is becoming increasingly interested in Africa as a whole. If one adds the drawn-out religious wars between Muslims and Christians, or those along tribal lines, with Islamic terrorists appearing in various places, it is no wonder that stability cannot be achieved. Governments are often weak and have no control in their countries, while banditry on land and on the high seas is forever on the increase. These bandits are equipped with the most modern weapons, are very mobile, use satellite communication, and their equipment is better than that of government troops. On the African west coast pirates attack ships at anchor in harbour or off the coast and highjack crews to obtain ransom. At least one West African Navy seems to have been involved in "protecting" an oil tanker accompanying it with its vessels beyond the horizon where it was met by an empty tanker into which the uniformed pirates transferred the oil. When this crime became public, two admirals were fired immediately. Tensions simmer in Togo, Ivory Coast, the DRC and Kenya, to mention just a few problem states. Nigeria is teetering on the brink and might break up into different states, adding to the volatile mix. Somalia, Tanzania, the Sudan also have problems to a lesser or greater degree. But nothing is really as it seems, and political alliances and situations can change from one week to the next.

The UN peacekeepers, as well as the African quick-reaction forces and organizations are not really effective. Closer to home, Angola is also not peaceful, and who knows what might happen in poor Zimbabwe and Moçambique.

However, Europe is increasingly turning to Africa south of the Sahara, to create an area of influence. Having close and profitable ties with North Africa, they reason quite rightly that investments in Southern Africa in order to uplift the 800 million people living there and cement close ties with South Africa, the only other power house of Africa, will eventually create a vast market for European goods. This will benefit our country enormously as long as we continue on the road of democracy, common sense and our will to be the big boy on the block. And we need investments. In order to attract these we have to beef up army, navy and air force so that we cannot be easily attacked from outside. Our defence packages are going well, so is Denel. Our new Navy ships and patrol corvettes, operating from Simon’s Town, will not remain idle in port but will show our flag along the coast. The Air Force will use its new 14 x A400 airbus transports for airlifts, while the government will use them as commercial cargo carriers. Our National Defence Force acquisition packages are running well, new arms, uniforms and other equipment are in the pipeline, even the submarines are no problem. The Army will receive its share of new fighting and transport vehicles over the next few years, which will make any hostile government on or outside the continent think twice before threatening us.

It was a most interesting lecture and listeners were for once able to drive home in a positive frame of mind. As usual, the full text is available on audio tape.

NB: Fellow Member Geoffrey Mangin has again intimated that he would very much like to hand over his duties as Audio-Recorder, which he is so admirably performing, to a younger person. The Committee is in full agreement with his wish and asks for volunteer/s to take over, perhaps on a rotating basis. Please contact the Scribe if you would like to lend a hand.

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Future Lectures:

Mrs. Elizabeth Nel, who will also touch upon her visit to the War Rooms in London during the renaming of these rooms to "Churchill Museum". As we expect quite a turnout we suggest to those who own folding chairs to bring these, just in case.
An in-depth illustrated talk by John E. Feitelberg M.I.M.M.
by Brigadier-General R.S. "Dick" Lord

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Meetings are held on the 2nd Thursday of each month, except December, at 20h00 in the Recreation Room of the SA LEGION’S ROSEDALE COMPLEX, Lower Nursery Road (off Lisbeek Parkway/Alma Road - Traffic Light), opposite Rosebank Railway Station. Secure parking inside the premises. All visitors welcome. Tea and biscuits will be served.

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Jochen (John) O.E.O. Mahncke, Vice-Chairman/Scribe,
Tel.: 021-797-5167021-797-5167

South African Military History Society /