President Jacob Zuma on Sunday handed medals to SANDF officers who cared for former president Nelson Mandela and helped with his burial.
“We have gathered here today to remember Madiba by honouring and awarding medals to those of our men and women in uniform who took care of our gallant leader when he was ill,” Zuma said during the ceremony at Waterkloof Air force Base in Pretoria, according to a copy of his speech.
He said those involved gave Mandela a send-off befitting a global icon.
“I can say it with pride that the planning, execution and precision with which the SANDF performed its duties left no one in doubt about the capability of our armed forces to carry such a mammoth task. The funeral indeed showcased the character of our national defence force worldwide.”
It was an apt way to remember the first anniversary of Mandela’s death, given that Mandela had “built the South African National Defence Force from seven disparate forces to what it is today”, he said.
Mandela died in his Houghton, Johannesburg, home at the age of 95 on December 5 last year.