Gunner ends career with a big bang

South Africa - Cape Town - 30 August 2019 - Chief Petty Officer Dudley Malgas has fired the Noon Gun from the Lions Battery on Signal Hill for the last 22 years and will retire on Saturday 31 August 2019. The Noon Gun has been a historic time signal in Cape Town since 1806. It consists of a pair of powder Dutch naval guns, fired alternatingly with one serving as a backup. The guns are situated on Signal Hill. Picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA)

Residents gathered at the Lions Battery on Signal Hill to bid farewell to noon day gunner, chief petty officer, Dudley Malgas, on his last day.

With more than 6 500 cannons fired in 22 years, Mr Malgas officially hung up his spurs on Saturday August 31.

At the gathering, Mr Malgas said he never knew the impact that he had on people until his last month and he would miss his job. He said he has many memories that he will forever keep close to his heart.

“Most of all it’s laughter with the people from all walks of life who I met on a daily basis. I enjoyed interacting with people and I didn’t expect so many people here and I now realise the positive impact that my work had on people,” he said.

“I will definitely miss the time between 11am and noon. That’s the time that I usually get ready to fire the gun. I wonder what I’m going to do now at that time,” he said.

Mr Malgas said he joined the navy in 1980 when he was doing his matric. He said he attended the sessions and put his name in the group and didn’t even think he would be selected for the job.

He has been firing the noon-day gun since 1999. He said the noon gun was significant to Cape Town. There was a time when people came to a halt and stood still for two minutes of silence in remembrance of those who lost their lives during both world wars.

“That was a significant time People don’t stand still anymore but it’s important to keep the legacy,” he said.

Wendy Paisley, a member of the Friends of Lions Head and Signal Hill and a resident of Tamboerskloof, said she goes up to the noon gun for walks and she’s learnt from Mr Malgas.

“He would tell us the history of this area and it was amazing to watch him doing what he was passionate about and still having the same passion to this day,” she said.

Sharing her sentiments, the chairperson of the Friends of Lions Head and Signal Hill, Kosta Papageorgeiou, said it won’t be the same without Mr Malgas but they are confident that his successor will do well.

“Capetonians should come more often and see the great work that the guys do,” he said.

Bo-Kaap resident, Zulfiq Daniels, said Mr Malgas has done a good job, served the country and taught young people a lot about the noon gun. He said he will miss Mr Malgas as he grew up in front of him.

“When we were 13/14 years old, we would wait for him to get us at the bottom every day with his own bakkie and his wife would give us cookies and juice. Memorable times. There was a time when he was very angry with us because we shot a guinea fowl with a slingshot and he chased us through the mountain and told us to never come back again. The next day, he loaded us in his bakkie and we came back up again,” he said.

Mr Malgas advised the person taking over from him to always be on time so that they are able to keep the city on time.

He said he will be joining the tourism sector as it plays a vital role in Cape Town.