Military Academy students rise above Trans Enduro challenge

By S Sgt Itumeleng Makhubela
Photos by L Cpl Paul Mpangala

The Military Academy students continued to carry the Trans Enduro Exercise tradition over three decades since its inception in the early 1980’s. Situated in the West coast of Saldanha, the Academy is a training unit of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) and houses the Faculty of Military Science in the University of Stellenbosch.

The Military Academy students’ participate in the Stellenbosch University’s MAD² carnival held in Stellenbosch at the beginning of each year. As part of the fund raising effort by the University’s Maties Community Service’ organisation - Masiza, the Academy raise funds by planning, organising and participating in an intrinsically unique event called Exercise Trans Enduro.

“It started in 1982, coincidentally the year I was born. The students at the time wanted to have some time to unwind after exams and have a bit of fun activity. So 30 years ago it started with a sea team. The first leg is the leadership development which undergraduate students of the military academy get the opportunity to do command and control, plan and execute different teams under the Trans Enduro Exercise.” Explained Lt Reynold Ruiters, a Trans Enduro Exercise Commander for 2017.

The exercise comprises of a few teams which are Land team, Cycling team, Sea team, Signal team, the Masiza team, Logistics, Finance and the Kaaswors team. The teams travel from Port Elizabeth to Saldanah over the period of ten days, staying overnight in pre-determined towns along the way.

During the day the cycling teams covers a set distance on ten bicycles, whilst the Sea team, consisting of two rubber pencil ducks with outboard motors, travel by sea along the coast. The sea team also have members changing and refuelling at pre-determined points.

Lt Ruiters said: “We have Endurance teams that support the Masiza which is our centre of gravity. The runners cover 9 – 10 km per day and cycling up to 120 km. So between Port Elizabeth and Saldanah it is almost 1, 180 for cycling and 58 km for runners covered. It is quite an important thing with regards to physical endurance part of the members. For the Sea Team, the National Sea Rescue is on standby for us any eventually.”

The Land Team raises funds from Port Elizabeth to Saldanah Bay with each team led by a commander and a 21C. The Land Team liaise with municipalities to do fundraising. They request approval from business chambers and private owners of malls and shopping centres so that they are made aware of the fundraising projects. Lt Ruiters said that it teaches them to liaise with different stakeholders which include municipalities.

He said the land team moves from towns to town by vehicles, raising funds for the Maties Community Service and Masiza. The Masiza team also does various community service work along the way. The type of community service typically includes cleaning streets and neighbourhoods, painting school building, providing stationary to the less fortunate youth, visiting old-age homes as well as engaging in social activities.

“Each year the Land Teams raise funds for Masiza and this year and this year we have raised almost R30 000 for Masiza which start its activities in January until the Trans Enduro Exercise starts again. We buy books, school equipment, uniforms among other things for schools and learners as part of our leadership development programme, mostly schools along the west coast the south coast from Port Elizabeth to Saldanah. There is a lot of preparation for Trans Enduro Exercise from the teams by liaising with local traffic departments within municipalities as it is important for the safety of the runners and cyclers.” Said Lt Ruiters.

CO Busisiwe Mabena who led the Masiza team believes that it is the core of the Trans Enduro Exercise. “We raise funds for Masiza to donate to poor communities, families as well as disadvantaged school such as this one. We start by raising funds through events that we organise from January month of each year then we then use the accumulated proceeds of the events at the end of the year when we conduct Trans Enduro Exercise.” She said.

The Masiza team headed to Jeffery’s Bay to revamp a sport field in one of the schools and donated some food parcels to disadvantaged families. Masiza as a team under Trans Enduro Exercise was established in an attempt to help the less fortunate. Masiza also visited the Fredenburg College and donated sanitary towels as well as books.

“The name of the school we are visiting today is called the Yellowwood Primary School and was identified by a team that conducted the Trans Enduro Exercise last year. Some of the learners in the school walk long distance on barefoot. The toilets are not in a good condition, classes are cramped and there is no space as learners use few classrooms. Kitchen facilities are also in a dire state.” Said CO Mabena.

Throughout the journey, courtesy calls were made in municipalities with the town mayors and other local authorities. The entire exercise is planned and executed by Military Academy students. This develops their leadership skills and enhances their understanding of practical issues related to community service work.

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