New director: maritime strategy for SA Navy


The man overseeing South Africa’s maritime strategy following the retirement of Rear Admiral Sagaren Pillay is Read Admiral David Mkhonto.

He officially takes up the post at the Navy Office in Pretoria on April 1.

Following integration which saw the formation of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) in 1994, Mkhonto did his basic training orientation courses at SAS Saldanha, the naval Gymnasium. Apprenticeship followed at SAS Wingfield with a Mechanical Fitter Machinery Ships MF (Mach) as well as his N6 national diploma.

He was drafted aboard SAS Shaka followed by a tour of duty on SAS Galeshewe after which Mkhonto started his Cat B officer’s course in 2000 at the SA Naval College in Gordon’s Bay. This was followed by Naval Technical officer’s courses at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology. Another round of study starting in 2001 saw him obtain his National Diploma in Mechanical Engineering S4.

In November 2003 Mkhonto was appointed assistant marine engineering officer aboard SAS Adam Kok. He served here until 2005 also completing the Junior Staff and Warfare Course at the Naval Staff College, Muizenberg.

From September 2005 to December 2007 he was seconded to Armscor as assistant project officer for project Wills in Germany. He was appointed and delegated to head the South African submarine project office in Emden, Germany, where SAS Charlotte Maxeke and SAS Queen Modjadji were built.

In January 2008 Mkhonto did the Joint Senior Command and Staff Programme at the SA National War College. He also successfully completed the National Diploma in Joint and Multi-national Operations.

February 2006 saw Mkhonto promoted to Captain and named Officer Commanding the Fleet Maintenance Unit in Simon’s Town. He was additionally tasked as project officer for Project Xena (patrol boats).

He was appointed Flag officer Commanding Naval Base Simon’s Town in April 2012 and promoted to read admiral. He served in this post until February 2015 and was named Director: Product System Support.

Mkhonto has completed the Executive National Security programme (ENSP), now renamed the Security and Defence Studies Programme (SDSP) and was elected regal for ENSP 29/14.

Pillay joined the maritime service in 1976 as a volunteer cadet and became a full-time force member the following year. He retires with 42 years’ service to his credit.