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2008-10-29: Military units to march through the streets of Soweto

THIS year residents of Soweto will for the first time be able to watch the Freedom and Reconciliation Parade when military units and veterans march through the streets on Saturday 8 November.

Starting at 11h00, over 400 soldiers will be marching behind a massed Pipe Band.  The event will involve participation by military veterans' organization incliding Umkhonto we Sizwe Military veterans Association (MKMVA) and the Azanian Peoples' Liberation Army Military Veterans' Association (APLAMVA).

Twelve Freedom Regiments will hold a combined parade in support of the 21 Battalion, an army unit with a long association with Soweto.  A religious service will be held to remember their former comrades and heroes, and to exercise their Freedom of Entry to Soweto.

The Freedom Regiments Parade takes place in November each year on the Saturday prior to Remembrance Sunday.  Previously, the parade marched to the Cenotaph, Harrison Street, in the city center.  This year the same tradition will be continued, except that this year the event is moving to Soweto.

The shift of venue underlines the inclusive, democratic ethos of the city, while enabling Soweto residents to view the occasion for the first time.

The Freedom of Entry by a city to deserving military regiments, permitting them to march through the streets with fixed bayonets, colours flying and drums beating.  This privilege is a symbolic token of the trust placed in a specific regiment or unit by the civilian population.  To date there are twelve Regiments that have the Freedom of Entry to the City of Johannesburg.

The Speaker of the Johannesburg Council, Clr Nkele Ntingane will preside as patron of the Freedom Parade and receive the salute.

The parade will proceed down Mooki Street in Orlando East, culminating at the Orlando Communal Hall.  This historic hall was a venue for high-level meetings of the ANC from the 1930s onwards and the site where the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) was formed in 1959.  This area is also associated with leading figures of the anti-apartheid movement including Nelson Mandela, Oliver Tambo and Robert Sobukwe.

This will be followed by a march past by the local veterans of the South African National Military Veterans Association (SANMVA), which was established as recently as September 2008.  The representatives will be mainly from the Azanian Peoples' Liberation Army Military Veterans' Association (APLAMVA), Azanian National Liberation Army Military Veterans' Association (AZANLAMVA), Umkhonto we Sizwe Military Veterans Association (MKMVA), and the Council of Military Veterans' Organisations (CMVO).

A wreath laying ceremony will be held by the Military Veterans after their march past, with wreaths being laid by City of Johannesburg, President of SANMVA, APLA MVA, AZANLA MVA, MK MVA and 21 SAI Battalion.