Continental hands-on experience boosts SANDF Chaplain General’s pastoral value


The pastoral and spiritual leader of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) is its Chaplain General where Brigadier General (Father) Ernest Masweu, a long serving military priest with continental experience on his CV, oversees the Chaplain Service.

He is assisted by Chief of Staff Colonel (Father) AD Mokobe with 15 senior staff officers (SSOs) reporting to them. In addition to the four services – air force, army, military health and navy and SANDF divisions – military chaplains are also designated to handle human resources and ethics. This is clearly illustrated by an extract from the Chaplain Service pledge. It reads: “I pledge to use my pastoral skills and spiritual gifts to nurture the living, care for the wounded and honour the dead with the love and professionalism they deserve”.

Masweu’s military career started as a level four chaplain at SA Army headquarters with promotion to level three seeing him at 43 SA Brigade Wallmansthal in 2004. During his term at 43 SA Brigade, he was involved as brigade chaplain in all exercises the brigade planned and led. From October 2004 to May 2005 he was deployed to Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) as contingent Chaplain for Operation Mistral. In 2007, he was transferred to Joint Operations Headquarters where he served until 2014 when he was transferred to SA Army Intelligence Formation and served for two years. Between his appointment as SA Army Intelligence Formation chaplain, he was SSO Army chaplain in 2015. In 2016 he was moved to SA Army Signal Formation until May 2018.

In 2015, while at the landward force intelligence formation, he received the Special Chaplain General merit award for his contribution to the SANDF ministry.

In 2018, Masweu was promoted to colonel as SSO Joint Operations Division chaplain, a post he held until he was promoted to brigadier general, as Chaplain General mid-last year. He replaced Monwabisi Jamangile, who retired as a one-star.

Among courses Masweu attended and completed is the NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation) one for chaplains in operations as well as the South African national diploma for joint and multi-national operations.