President Cyril Ramaphosa is on Friday morning expected to officiate at Armed Forces Day in Polokwane.

The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) will show its military capabilities and parades. It follows week-long displays in the town.

Watch below the expected scenes of Armed Forces Day:

Polokwane municipal spokesperson Thipa Selala says some streets were closed as early as five o’clock on Friday morning. He has advised motorists to use alternative routes.

Selala says, “The Armed Forces Day is going to affect motorists around Polokwane from Friday from five o’clock in the morning until 11 o’clock. There will be a parade on the following streets that’s Landros Mare between Thabo Mbeki and Bodenstein, Church between Thabo Mbeki and Bodenstein. The municipal building, the Jack Botes hall, SASSA and other offices will be accessible only to people who work in those offices. Those offices will have access arranged for them. The Polokwane municipality urges all road users to use alternative routes during these activities.”

Background

Armed Forces Day is held annually on 21 February in commemoration of the sinking of the SS Mendi steamship on 21 February 1917, one of South African’s worst tragedies of the First World War (1914-1918).

A total of 616 black South African troops died when the SS Mendi steamship sank on its way to France.

Armed Forces Day seeks to expand public understanding of the role of the SANDF in the life of the nation and to demonstrate through live simulations of military action the capability of the army, navy, air force and South African Medical Health Service.  Additional reporting Jabulani Baloi.

Below is the infographic on the sinking of the SS Mendi: