Former SecDef Gulube dies


Former Secretary for Defence Dr Sam Gulube died at the weekend aged 67, 11 months after he retired.

A Department of Defence (DoD) statement has it Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula was both shocked and saddened when told of the former SecDef’s death due to COVID-19 complications.

A medical man, Gulube was also a trained soldier in the ranks of Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK), the former armed wing of the ANC. In addition to serving in uniform, Gulube also served the current ruling party in South Africa as secretary of the ANC mission to the United Nations and the United States.

When he returned to a democratic South Africa, Gulube integrated into the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) as a doctor at 1 Military Hospital providing medical and surgical services to military patients. While there he assisted in other roles at the SA Medical Research Council and the SA National Blood Service. He left the SANDF briefly joining the State Security Agency (SSA).

Gulube served South Africa with distinction in capacities including chairing the Medical Advisory Board of the Presidency of South Africa, national medical director of the SA National Blood Service and chief executive of the Universal Service Agency. He also held positions with the Medical Research Council, the National Department of Health, as a surgeon in the military and at the University of South-Florida College of Medicine.

He was an adviser to former State Security Minister Siyabonga Cwele. He also served as a member of the Business Advisory Council of the UN Office for Project Services and as a member of the National Telemedicine Research Centre at the Medical Research Council.

Gulube, the DoD statement said, will be remembered for his leading role at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic last year when he steered the National Joint Operations and Intelligence Committee (NatJoints,) an advisory and co-ordinating body to the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC). Using his medical experience, Gulube directed NatJoints during critical stages of the fight against coronavirus advising Cabinet on pandemic related matters.

Condolences and sympathy for Gulube’s family, in addition to those expressed by Mapisa-Nqakula, come from deputy minister Thabang Makwetla, SecDef Gladly Kudjoe and SANDF Chief General Rudzani Maphwanya.