Retired SAAF general back to add value to military heritage


Retired SA Air Force (SAAF) Major General “Lucky” Ngema is back in uniform, as a Reserve Force officer, tasked with bringing the air force museum into line regarding the pre-integration history of the non-statutory forces.

This has been confirmed by Brigadier General Marthie Visser, Director: SAAF Corporate Staff Services.

It is not clear whether his mandate is to create new display sections or areas at each of the three SAAF museums, sited at air force bases Zwartkop, Ysterplaat and Port Elizabeth, for an historical overview of non-statutory forces such as MK and Apla, or to integrate with existing displays. A timeframe of a year appears to have been set for the new additions to museum displays to be completed.

At AFB Zwartkop, the SAAF Museum headquarters, former Officer Commanding Lieutenant Colonel Willie Nel, saw to it that museum displays were added to be in line with democratic South Africa.

Indications from a number of military aviation history enthusiasts are that at least part of Ngema’s job will see displays reflecting the air wings or airborne components of organisations like MK created at at least one and hopefully all three SAAF museums. The overall thinking behind his appointment, at a Reserve Force wage of more than R2 500 a day, is apparently to preserve the history and heritage of not only the SAAF but also that of the armed wings of the liberation movements for future generations.

Ngema’s appointment comes weeks after two SAAF Museums were suddenly closed. The reasons given were a lack of Reserve Force man-days to pay museum personnel, the majority of who are Reserve Force members, and the need for a security review. Both were satisfactorily concluded and SAAF Museums are now again operating normally.

Ngema retired in 2010 leaving the air force as Chief Director: Air Policy and Plans after a career spanning 34 uninterrupted years in aviation.

There is no indication of whether Ngema will report to Museum Officer Commanding, Lieutenant Colonel Mike O’Connor, or to Colonel Rama Iyer, SAAF Director: Heritage.