On Saturday, 29 September, soldiers of the 9th South African Infantry Battalion were welcomed back from Sudan by Executive Mayor of Cape Town Alderman Patricia de Lille at a ceremony at the Grand Parade in central Cape Town. The event included a march by members of the South African National Defence Force, an exhibition of military technology and a parachute landing performed by the South African Air Force.
The 9th South African Infantry Battalion, based in Eersterivier, was deployed to Sudan between November 2011 and June 2012 as part of the African Union and United Nations Hybrid Mission in Darfur.
Speaking at the ceremony, Mayor De Lille said: “I would like to congratulate [the 9th South African Infantry Battalion] for the role they played in the African Union-United Nations Mission in Darfur. During the eight months they spent in Darfur they made significant contributions to building peace and stability in that region,” said the Mayor.
“Their presence reassured the victims that they had not been forgotten during this difficult time. These men and women went beyond their military duties to help stabilise Darfur. They joined local residents to rebuild vandalised roads and schools, built a volleyball court and donated stationery and musical instruments to learners in Darfur to empower school children to continue with their studies and pursue their extramural talents.”
All of this was done in an unstable and dangerous environment.
“We celebrate their bravery. They put their lives in danger to ensure that the people of Darfur could also enjoy a measure of peace and stability. For them, the pursuit of peace is a call they are prepared to answer, and the commitment to restore the shattered dreams of communities is one they will not break. These men and women are our sons, brothers, husbands and neighbours, and today we officially welcome them back to their home,” concluded the Mayor.