SA Army chief dies


President Cyril Ramaphosa, in his capacity as Commander-in-Chief of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF), and Defence and Military Veterans Minister, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, are saddened by the untimely death of new SA Army chief, Lieutenant General Thabiso Collin Mokhosi.

His death was announced on Tuesday in advisory issued by the Department of Defence (DoD). It noted the three star general died in Centurion’s Unitas Hospital “following a short illness”.

Mokhosi was named as successor to Lieutenant General Lindile Yam in November, when a raft of senior appointments was made known by Mapisa-Nqakula. At that time it was stated that Mokhosi would not take up his position as the commander of South Africa’s largest military component – the land force in the form of the SA Army with its nine formations and two brigades.

The 51-year-old Mokhosi was expected to take up his new position in January with Army deputy chief Major General “Mannetjies” de Goede deputising. No announcement about either a new chief or who will be acting until one is appointed had been made at the time of publication. De Goede was in November appointed as Acting Chief of the Army.

Mokhosi was born in Port Elizabeth and, like many of his age, left South Africa to join Umkhonto we Sizwe, the armed wing of the ANC. He completed basic military training in Angola in 1985 and an advanced engineering demolition course in the Ukraine the following year.

Following his return to South Africa and integration into the SANDF, Mokhosi successfully completed a number of courses and programmes including one on strategic leadership at the SA Army College Peace Mission Training Centre, junior command and staff duties, executive national security (now security and defence studies) at the SANDF College as well as a Royal College of Defence Studies international security and strategy course in London.

From a small arms and engineering instructor in Quibaxe Camp, Angola, to an MK task team in Tanzania, company commander in the National Peacekeeping Force, 4 SA Infantry Battalion company commander, Grade One staff officer Infantry Systems Research and Development, Officer Commanding SA Mechanised Regiment Central and Commandant SA Army College, these are some of the posts Mokhosi has filled in his military career. Latterly he was personal staff officer to the SANDF Chief as well as director, peace support operations and General Officer Commanding Joint Operations headquarters.

Mapisa-Nqakula was joined by her deputy Thabang Makwetla; Secretary for Defence, Dr Sam Gulube; Chief of the SANDF, General Solly Shoke and the Military Command Council in extending heartfelt condolences to the Mokhosi family, friends and loved ones.

Funeral arrangements have not yet been announced.