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Military beat in Soweto

JABULANI Mall turned into a colourful parade ground, with flags fluttering in the breeze and marching music filling the air.

Joburg councillor van der Schyf inspectsJoburg councillor Willie van der Schyf inspects the FRA regimentsThe Freedom Regiment Association of Johannesburg (FRA) marched through the area on 12 November, in full military regalia and drums beating, to celebrate their freedom of entry into Johannesburg. The march was a precursor to the national civic Remembrance Sunday service at the Cenotaph in the inner city on 13 November.

Looking dazzling in their uniforms, the soldiers paraded in the parking lot to the accompaniment of beating drums. Shoppers and passers-by witnessed the splendid scene, with some taking photographs and filming the event.

The freedom of entry into a city is not bestowed lightly. It signifies mutual trust between a city and the military. Among association regiments that participated were the Transvaal Scottish, Witwatersrand Rifles, Johannesburg Regiment, Transvaal Horse Artillery, Regiment President Kruger, and Light Horse Regiment.

The troops were inspected by Willie van der Schyf, a proportional representation councillor who was standing in for the Speaker of council, Constance Bapela. In his keynote address, Van der Schyf said the reserve force regiments played a vital role in supporting civic functions and citizens.

“The City is proud to have some of the celebrated regiments of the country in its city. The City’s long and valued association with the regiments has been a most positive one. We wish to continue this legacy into the future,” he said.

Freedom of entry, he pointed out, was usually only granted to those regiments that had had a long and illustrious association with the City and in recognition of service of high order rendered to the city in particular and the country in general.

The first regiment to be granted the freedom of entry to Joburg was the Transvaal Scottish Regiment in 1952; 50 years later, in 2002, the Six Light Anti-aircraft Regiment received the freedom, explained Van Der Schyf.

Remembrance Sunday, which took place the next day, is an international observation to honour all those who have died in war and armed conflict. In South Africa, it includes all those who gave their lives in the armed struggle for democracy.

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