Biography: Secretary for Defence Sonto Kudjoe


Gladys Sonto Kudjoe was appointed Secretary for Defence with effect from 1 August 2020, taking over from Dr Sam Gulube following his retirement.

Between 1978 and 1980 Kudjoe attended St Chads College, where she matriculated. In 1997 she obtained her Diploma in Project Management from Damelin College. From 1980 to 1981 she studied for Baccalaureus Procurationis (B Proc) Programme at University of the North but due to political situation that existed at the time she left South Africa into exile without completing her studies. In 1987 Kudjoe attained her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Law specialising in Criminal Law at Kishinev State University (KSU) in the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), a qualification certified by South African Qualifications Authority as an Honours degree.

From 1992 to 1994 she did her postgraduate studies in Placement Training Programme on the Administration of Criminal Justice and Criminology in the Department of Criminology at University of Hull, England.

From 1995 to 1997 she was employed as a Researcher for the National Institute for Public Interest Law and Research (NIPILAR). In 1997 Kudjoe was appointed the Deputy Executive Director of NIPILAR until 1998.

For two years from 1998 to 2000 she served as a Manager in charge of Research and Analysis on Africa at the South African Secret Service (SASS). From 2000 to 2002 she was appointed the first Chief Director, Africa Multilateral, at the then Department of Foreign Affairs.

From 2002 to 2006 Kudjoe was appointed Ambassador of South Africa to the Kingdom of Sweden and Latvia. From 2006 to 2010 She became South African Ambassador to the Arab Republic of Egypt. Between 2010 and 2013 she was appointed Deputy Director General in the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO).

From August 2013 to August 2016 she became Director General of the State Security Agency (SSA) making her the first female Director General at the helm of the SSA. She resigned in 2016 due to what The Citizen reported was a ‘tense’ relationship with then state security minister David Mahlobo. Her predecessor Jeff Maqetuka resigned in 2013 after four years on the job.

Kudjoe joined the newly established Paramount South Africa division in 2018 and was with the company for a brief spell.

Kudjoe’s appointment as Secretary for Defence was announced by Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula on 23 July 2020.

Thanks to SA Soldier magazine for providing much of Kudjoe’s biographical details.