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'Mandela's military' a force to be reckoned with

Zuma today awarded the chiefs of the army, navy, air force and medical service with a Mandela medal.

The SANDF's first ever Mandela Medal. Picture: Govan Whittles/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - President Jacob Zuma says former President Nelson Mandela's decision to combine seven existing forces to form the Sandf at the end of apartheid has now made South Africa's military a force to be reckoned with on the African continent.

Zuma today awarded the chiefs of the army, navy, air force and medical service with the first ever Mandela medal for their service during Madiba's hospitalisation.

Among those honoured with medals were 22 civilian doctors 51 serving soldiers and 11 retired Sandf members.

Zuma says Madiba did more than unite a nation when South Africa was on the brink of a civil war.

Not only did Madiba unify the nation but he also built the Sandf from seven desperate forces to what it is today.

Zuma says Madiba was the first ever commander in chief of the military despite having no active war experience and the work done by the current soldiers would have made him proud.

The president also says the Sandf's management of Madiba's funeral and several memorial services has demonstrated its capacity to deal with major events.