First day on the job for new SANDF senior officers

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Several new chiefs of service today, 1 November, started in their new positions with the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) after being promoted by Chief General Solly Shoke on 31 October.

Among those promoted during a ceremony at the SA Army College in Thaba Tshwane on Thursday was Major General Rudzani Maphwanya, who was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant General and subsequently appointed as Chief of SANDF Joint Operations, taking over the command from retiring Lieutenant General Barney Hlatshwayo.

Less than a month after being promoted and becoming Joint Operations Chief, Maphwanya will mark his 60th birthday, making him eligible for retirement. Indications are that his service will be extended as provision is made in the Defence Act for uniformed SANDF personnel to continue serving after reaching statutory retirement age. This provision was used by Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula to extend Shoke’s service contract.

Had a Parliamentary question not been asked by Democratic Alliance (DA) shadow defence minister Kobus Marais, South Africans would not have known of the Ministerial decision. She told Marais, in part, Shoke’s term of service was extended on 1 June 2016 for five years. This would indicate the only general in the SANDF will retire in June 2021.

The new Joint Operations chief held various positions in the SANDF following integration in 1994, starting with that of company commander at 1 SA Infantry Battalion and then to Far North Command as headquarters company commander.

He served as Staff Officer Class 2 Operations, Monitoring and Evaluation and Training between 1997 and 1999. In 1999 Maphwanya was transferred to the SA Special Forces Brigade as Staff Officer Class 1 Operations, Monitoring and Evaluation until 2001. This was followed by a Senior Staff Officer Operations Monitoring and Evaluation posting before he was named Chief of Staff for SA Special Forces from 2003 to 2005.

While in this post he successfully completed what was the Executive National Security Programme (ENSP), now the Security and Defence Studies Programme (SDSP). He then returned to Special Forces as General Officer Commanding from 2006 to 2016 when he was promoted to lieutenant general as General Officer Commanding the SA Army Infantry Formation.

The new Surgeon General of the SA Military Health Service is Lieutenant General Zola Dabula, who takes over the command from retiring Surgeon General Aubrey Sedibe.

Dabula left private practice in 1992 to join the integration process ahead of the formation of the SANDF, integrating with the rank of colonel.

In 1997 he requested a transfer to the Eastern Cape where he worked in Umtata General Hospital as the head of trauma and emergency for all cases referred from 13 surrounding district hospitals. In 2000, he was appointed as the Chief Medical Superintendent of Umtata General Hospital Complex including the main referral hospital, the TB and chest disease section and the orthopaedic hospital.

Dabula transferred back to SAMHS in October 2002 and fast tracked military courses including the junior staff course, senior management programme, Senior Command and Staff programme and ENSP, now SDSP. Postings after this included General Officer Commanding 1 Military Hospital, GOC Tertiary Military Health Formation and Chief Director Military Health Force Preparation as lieutenant general.

New SANDF human resources chief, Vice Admiral Elias Kubu, joined the SA Navy in 1991. Since his commissioning as an officer he has served in the human resource and education, training and development environments. He completed all the requisite functional and military courses.

Kubu took over the command from Lieutenant General Norman Yengeni, who is starting his retirement.



Incumbent Chief of the Army, Lieutenant General Lindile Yam, was due to be appointed as Chief of Staff in place of Lieutenant General Vusumuzi Masondo, who was to be appointed as the Military Ombud. In the position of Chief of the Army, the SANDF was due to promote Major General Thabiso Mokhosi, in command of Joint Operations Headquarters, to the rank of Lieutenant General, allowing him to fill the post. However, Mokhosi is ill and as a result Yam is continuing to serve as Chief of the Army and acting Chief of Staff.