Full military honours will be accorded Lieutenant General Bongani Mbatha, the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) Chief of Logistics, when he is buried from ABF Waterkloof on Wednesday.
Prior to integrating into the SANDF in 1994 Mbatha joined Umkhonto we Sizwe in 1978 in Mozambique after fleeing South Africa via Swaziland. It was here he had his first interaction with South Africa’s current president, Jacob Zuma. He was a political commissar at the time stationed at the Matola transit camp. Mbatha went to Quibaxe in Angola after a spell in Mozambique for basic military training and then onto the former East Germany for specialised weapons training.
On returning from Europe he was deployed at Caculama in eastern Angola as a PT instructor under the command of former SANDF Chief, General Godfrey Ngwenya. He was then deployed to Luanda to work in MK logistics headquarters and from there appointed head of the logistics section in Benguela. He was moved back Luanda serving in the shipping and clearing section of logistics headquarters.
Even after MK forces withdraw from Angola he remain in the country and his years there saw him survive any number of attacks by both UNITA and the then SA Defence Force.
Mbatha was repatriated to South Africa in 1993 and seconded to a committee charged with collecting weapons from former liberation fighters nationally. This was mandated by the Transitional Executive Council, one of the bodies involved in negotiations.
Following integration he underwent bridging training, all arms battle training, Senior Command and Staff Duties Course and the Executive National Security Programme.
As a major he served as logistics officer at 4 SA Infantry Battalion being promoted through the ranks to brigadier general and the post of Director: Supply Services Support Management. He was then transferred to the SA Army and served as Director: Army Logistics before being promoted to major general and the post of Chief Director: Force Structure. His final promotion was to lieutenant general responsible for SANDF Logistics.