South Africa: The Officer Commanding of the 16 Maintenance Unit, Major Jiki Zine Somdaka, officially welcomed 60 Military Skills Development System recruits to the Unit at SA Army Combat Training Centre in Lohatlha on Monday, 09 January 2023.
The 2022 intake that Major Somdaka described as the “cream of the crop” recently completed their Basic Military Training at 3 South African Infantry Battalion in Kimberley.
During her inspirational address, Major Somdaka beamed with pride when she welcomed the future logisticians, chefs, and human resources personnel. “You are the few that were chosen. You are the cream of the crop. It is not by mistake that you were selected to be part of this operational Unit. You are going to learn a lot, and when the time comes, and you look back, you will realise how much you learnt from the 16 Maintenance Units. Remember, soldiers are made in Lohatlha,” she said confidently.
The charismatic Officer Commanding advised the members to ignore the negative sentiments about Lohatlha and focus on growing and building their careers. “Do not despair; forget the negativity about this place and tell yourself that you are here for a reason. I was once a troop at 16 Maintenance; I am now the Officer Commanding. I am living proof that when you are placed in a small corner, you will shine. Therefore, this is the right place for you to grow and reach your goals,” she encouraged the members. On a more serious note, she cautioned against sexual assault, gender-based violence, and personal vendettas. “I believe we have gentlemen in this group. When a lady says no, no means no. Do not force yourself on a woman. Ladies, do not take advantage of men because of personal vendettas. You all need to protect each other. As the Unit, we will create a safe environment for you,” she said.
The enthusiastic recruits were impressed by the Officer Commanding’s speech; they described it as inspirational.
Private Helena Sibuyani from Sabie in Mpumalanga says the Officer Commanding’s welcoming speech motivated her. “Her experiences motivate me also to strive to reach my goals. If she can do it, I can also do it,” she said proudly.
Private Nompumelelo Katlego Phakedi from Potchefstroom in North West said the Officer Commanding was welcoming and a good leader. “I feel inspired after listening to her speech. I intend to further my studies and grow in the SA Defence Force.”
Private Tshegofatso Kwati from Bloemhof, North West, felt encouraged and motivated. “The Officer Commanding is soft-spoken and professional. She is willing to assist us in growing in our careers. Some members of our group wanted to quit the Army. They have now changed their minds after listening to the Officer Commanding’s story of how she achieved her goals despite the hardships and challenges she had to overcome,” she said.
The 60 recruits will further undergo corps training and specialisation training at different institutions like the Department of Defence School of Logistics Training, the Department of Defence School of Catering and Personnel Service School.