Triple change of command at AFB Hoedspruit


The new month started with three new officers commanding for SA Air Force (SAAF) units based at one of its two bases in Limpopo – AFB Hoedspruit.

Colonel Riaan van Wyk was given command of the Air Force Gymnasium at Batavia, just outside the base itself. He takes over from Brigadier General Kevin Moonsamy.

The second change of command marked by a parade was that of the Air Force Command and Control School. This important training asset of the airborne arm of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) is now under the command of Colonel Orapetse Mokgwabone.

The third and final change of command saw Colonel Nico Swarts become the new boss of 514 Protection Squadron. He takes over from Lieutenant Colonel Rapule Boshomane.

Van Wyk joined the SAAF in 1978 after successfully completing his regimental instructor’s course. Since then he has served at the SAAF Gymnasium, when it was based in Valhalla, Centurion; at Flying Training School, now AFB Langebaanweg as regimental instructor and assistant regimental sergeant major. He successfully completed officer’s course in 1983 and was appointed training officer at the SAAF Gymnasium.

He also has stints as personnel finance co-ordinator at the then AFB Potchefstroom; various information technology postings as a project officer and training officer under his belt and was also Senior Directing Staff at SAAF College. He was a member of the final Senior Command and Staff Course in 2001 and after this was Acting Officer Commanding of SAAF College and Officer Commanding the SAAF HQ Unit. Van Wyk was also the first South African to graduate from the Executive programme in Advanced Security Studies at the George C Marshall European Centre for Security Studies in Germany in 2008.His main subjects were defence transformation; warfare in the 21st century; international law; global security; armed conflict and international terrorism; transnational challenges to security; international security co-operation, national security governance and research and analysis.

Mokgwabone joined the SAAF in 1997 and started training as a, air traffic controller after completing his officer’s formative training. He was chosen for an approach control course presented in South Korea in 2004, prior to serving as an ATC at AFB Waterkloof. From the Centurion base he was moved to Air Force Command and Control School and then back to AFB Waterkloof as chief ATC before being placed on detached duty at the Command and Control School under his permanent appointment.

The new man in overall charge of base security at Hoedspruit joined the SA Cape Corps as a volunteer in 1988 before joining the then Citizen Force and finally attesting in the Permanent Force in March 1990.

In the SAAF he has been VIP protection co-ordinator; protection services career manager; BMT training officer; training co-ordinator and efficiency co-ordinator (both at the SAAF Gymnasium) as well as officer commanding 506 (AFB Bloemspruit), 525 (AFB Overberg) and 526 (AFB Langebaanweg) protection squadrons.