The new man in the driver’s seat at the SA Army Armour Formation is a 34 year uniform veteran who ranks 30 years of experience with armour in one form or another and his time as head of an Umkhonto we Sizwe musketry section among his top military memories.
Brigadier General Fezile “Fezz” Mbotyi a 57-year-old career soldier took over command of the Armour Formation at the beginning of September from retiring Brigadier General Andre Retief.
His time as a rifleman stands alongside second in command of the then National Peacekeeping Force, Officer Commanding the Northern Cape Works Formation during the formative period of the then fledgling formation after which his recent promotion to brigadier general and command of the “heavy metal” component of the SA Army rank as memorable moments.
His involvement with armour started in 1988 when he was sent to the then USSR for conventional warfare training. He completed Military College courses for tank engineer and rank regimental commander and was appointed third national commander of the MK contingent in the USSR.
Mbotyi returned to South Africa in September 1992 following a six month conversion course in India on Western vs Eastern bloc equipment.
The following year he served with the MK Battalion seconded to the then National Peacekeeping Force as Second in Command during ongoing conflict and unrest in Katorus on the Gauteng East Rand.
1995 saw him report to the School of Armour in Bloemfontein where he served as a captain and in 1999 he was promoted and transferred to 1 SA Tank Regiment as squadron commander. In 2000 he successfully completed the Captain’s Career Course (now known as Brigade Combat Team Staff Officer Course) at Fort Knox in the United States.
The three years from 2002 to 2005 saw Mbotyi back at the School of Armour as a wing commander and instructor. He subsequently commanded both the advanced and external training wings of the school.
From 2006 to 2008 he was Officer Commanding 1 Special Service Battalion. In 2009 he was promoted to colonel and transferred to the Joint Operations Division where he served as SSO Operations until 2012. In February 2013 he was appointed Officer Commanding Regional Works Unit Northern Cape where he served until August 2018.