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Air Force Gymnasium relocates to Hoedspruit

Amn Tebogo E. Kekana, AD ASTRA Magazine

Since the Air Force Gymnasium’s (AF Gym) foundation on 01 December 1951 and the first intake of 133 recruits, it has come a long way and has grown from strength to strength. Now the AF Gym’s training facility at Valhalla (opposite Swartkop airfield) is moving to the Boston complex at AFB Hoedspruit in the Limpopo Province. This follows the serious sinkhole/dolomite problems that have condemned the bungalows and most buildings at AF Gym.

Col. M.N. Sakwe

According to the Officer Commanding, Col M.N. Sakwe, “other reasons range from the fact that we want to up the Air Force standard in terms of moving these trainees away from the pressures of the city. There will be better control mechanisms put in place in terms of security and a soldier will be forced to behave like one as the BMT programme will progress for 6 months in the near future. Thus, there will only be two intakes per year”.

The move is expected to materialize in two phases, the first phase being the Basic Military Training wing that is to arrive on 27 November 2008 and training is to commence on 7 January 2009. The last two courses at the Gym (BMT and 2 Squadron – AF Gym) are to be completed by the end of November this year while the last one (3 Squadron – AF Gym) is expected to join them in middle of next year.

“With just a few improvements, training facilities at Hoedspruit will be able to cater for more than 500 students with adequate accommodation for instructors. There is however need identified for re-training of instructors and as a result they will be taken on such courses to familiarize themselves with the new curriculum” stated the OC.

This move however has somehow raised concerns especially with instructors who have families in Gauteng. They were reluctant because they perceived Hoedspruit to be rural and slow. However, the OC has taken it upon himself to take some instructors to see first hand that with time they will adjust and learn to embrace change.

WO2 H. Jafarie from (3 Squadron – AF Gym) stated that one of the fondest memories he has from the 4 years of his stay at AF Gym is witnessing the young people realizing their potential and going beyond in what they thought they are capable of. He said that he was especially proud during this year’s first intake when an obese female managed to make it in-spite of her size because she knew how much she wanted to reach her goal.

There are however upbeat souls like Amn Mmabatho Kopeledi who is a trainee at 3 Squadron – AF Gym, who is eager to finish her course as this will mark the end of Aerial and Ground Protection (AGP) phase in her life. Not only is she the best overall student so far, she just cannot wait to begin with her instructors course. She is adamant that she will make it as she confides to AD ASTRA that this is not just a job to her, but something that was predetermined by the higher power for her. “I am proud to be part of history in the making and to those who didn’t get the chance to train at AF Gym – those guys missed out on a lot!!!


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