SS Mendi centenary a highlight for Hlongwane as CNavy


Immediate past SA Navy Chief, Mosiwa Hlongwane, rates the centenary commemoration of the SS Mendi sinking in 2017 as one of his fondest memories during his eight year term as South Africa’s most senior sailor.

“I led the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) delegation in the United Kingdom (UK) to commemorate the centenary of the sinking of SS Mendi in February 2017, which included the SAS Amatola (F145) deployment as part of Exercise Ketane. As Chief of the Navy afforded the opportunity to interact with descendants of the brave sons of Africa who perished on board SS Mendi, it is one of my fondest memories. That we could honour their sacrifice 100 years later by sending Amatola to the exact spot where she sank was moving for all involved,” he wrote in a Navy News farewell message.

Another good memory for Hlongwane, the fourth CNavy since the establishment of the SANDF in 1994, was the successful combat firing of an SUT (surface and underwater target) torpedo by SAS Manthatisi (S101). This made her the first Heroine Class platform to do so.

August the same year saw the SA Navy (SAN) hydrographic office recognised as the centre of hydrographic excellence in Africa by the international hydrographic community through “its proven professional conduct, products, innovation and services”.

On naval operations and taskings Hlongwane notes, among others, operations Copper and Corona deployments as part of overall national defence force contributions to regional and national security.

Of Operation Copper, Hlongwane writes “various deployments to Mozambique were successful achieving the aim of preventing the spread of piracy in the southern Mozambique Channel”.

As with other current and previous service chiefs, as well as SANDF chiefs, Hlongwane faced what he calls an “ever-decreasing budget”. This “challenge” had to be “negotiated while subjected to constant pressure in getting our ships to sea”.

He pays tribute to the navy’s sailors, writing he was “fully aware of the frustrations experienced as you were eager to do your job, but things were beyond our control owing to limited resources”. Despite “many challenges” SAN personnel “went out of their way to do the job – for those sacrifices, I am in your debt”.

Hlongwane exited the CNavy suite of offices in Visagie Street, Pretoria, on 30 June without his successor named. As of today (Thursday, 7 July) neither SANDF Corporate Communication nor SAN public relations has responded to defenceWeb requests for information on his successor and whether it will be an acting or permanent position.