Lieutenant General Lawrence Khulekani Mbatha was today (Thursday, 9 April) named SA Army Chief, taking over from Major General “Mannetjies” de Goede, who was acting following the death of chief designate, Lieutenant General Thabiso Collin Mokhosi, earlier this year.
A Department of Defence (DoD) statement has it that “approval was granted for the appointment and promotion of Major General Lawrence Khulekani Mbatha to the substantive rank of Lieutenant General with effect from 8 April 2020 in the vacant post of Chief of the South African Army (SA Army)”.
Prior to being named chief of the largest service in the SA National Defence Force (SANDF), Mbatha was General Officer Commanding Training Command. Prior to that he served as GOC of the SA Military Academy (2012-2017) following a year-long stint as SA Army Gymnasium Officer Commanding between 2011 and 2012.
Mbatha’s CV included a four-year period as personal staff officer (PSO) to the then SA Army Chief, Lieutenant General Solly Shoke, now SANDF Chief, between 2007 and 2011.
His SANDF career started with integration in 1994 when he was named Provincial Integration Officer (MK) and SO2 Operations as part of Northern Cape Command Ops Room. Appointments after this included company commander (3 SA Infantry Battalion), SO1 integration at Army HQ and then after transferring to Defence HQ he became SO1 counter intelligence administration and logistics at Defence Intelligence. He also served as Ex Fibre SO1 Operations Counter Intelligence in 2002 Defence Intelligence Liberty House.
Shoke congratulated Mbatha on his promotion and appointment.
Mbatha was born in Kimberley on 25 July 1968. He joined UMkhonto Wesizwe in 1984 completing a commanders’ course in Angola 1987, an urban Fighting instructor course in what was East Germany in 1988 and Junior Command and Staff Duties in 1994 in Zimbabwe.
As a member of MK Mbatha held a number of posts. After completing basic training he was appointed as basic education tutor in Quibaxe camp 13 Angola; a member of the Commisariat; Logistic Commissar Moscow Transport Centre; a member of the Politics and Research Department of MK ANC in Ngoma-Uganda from 1989 to 1990; education Officer in Uganda from 1990 to 1991; and MK Regional Commander of the Northern Cape from 1991 to 1994.
Mbathal successfully completed the Senior Command and Joint Staff programme/course at Shrivenham College (UK) and obtained a certificate in Strategic Leadership from the Cranfield University Defence Academy in the United Kingdom. He has an SMP Certificate from the University of Stellenbosch Business School, a Certificate of Competence in Supply Chain Management and a Diploma in Political Science.