Winds of change blowing gradually at the SA Army infantry force preparation environment


The winds of change have gradually been blowing at the SA Army Infantry Formation and have been apparent since the annual placements in October 2020. Women have for quite some time been empowered to “Wield the Sword”, especially in the Force Preparation environment at SA Army Infantry Formation, which was predominantly dominated by their male counterparts.

As early as 1995 women in the South African Army were given the opportunity to complete Corps training in the fighting Corps commonly known as the “Teeth of Arms”, as women were in the minority in those days. A number of women have successfully completed Infantry Corps training at Infantry School, which formed the baseline for their careers within the Infantry.

Recently, women have demonstrated their ability to take command and demonstrate effective leadership, the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) said. “The Infantry women have been empowered and have progressed in their careers over the past few years. The SA Army Infantry Formation is proud of a number of women within the Force Preparation environment, who have been placed in key positions since October 2020. It is an honour to introduce a number of Infantry female warriors contributing to the winds of change.”

Senior Staff Officers:
● Motorised – South, Colonel B. Pikaan.
● Specialised Infantry, Colonel R. Odendal

Acting Senior Staff Officers:
● Education Training & Development, Lieutenant Colonel A. Britz.
● Mechanised, Lieutenant Colonel S. Botha.

Officers Commanding:
● 1 South African Infantry Battalion, Lieutenant Colonel M. Malatji.
● 2 South African Infantry Battalion, Lieutenant Colonel E.S.N. Cambinda.
● 7 South African Infantry Battalion, Lieutenant Colonel L. Thibela.
● 10 South African Infantry Battalion, Lieutenant Colonel T.M. Radzilani.
● 121 South African Infantry Battalion, Lieutenant Colonel M. Mokopotsi.
● SA Army Infantry Formation Headquarters Unit, Lieutenant Colonel T.E. Nukeri.
● King Shaka Regiment, Lieutenant Colonel C.N. Ntuli.
● Officer Commanding General De La Rey Regiment, Major N.I. Moyo.

Regimental Sergeant Majors:
● 101 Air Supply Unit, Master Warrant Officer N.M. Petty.
● 4 South African Infantry Battalion, Master Warrant Officer L.M. Mbotho.
● 5 South African Infantry Battalion, Master Warrant Officer Z.F. Malevu.
● 6 South African Infantry Battalion, Master Warrant Officer N. Nzuzo.
● 15 South African Infantry Battalion, Master Warrant Officer N.P. Tshabalala.
● 21 South African Infantry Battalion, Master Warrant Officer T.E. Carelse.

Profile: Lieutenant Colonel ESN Cambinda

With barely a year at the helm as the Officer Commanding of 2 South African Infantry Battalion, Lieutenant Colonel Cambinda has been given a task by the Chief of the SA National Defence Force to prepare and mobilise men and women to support various operations in and around South Africa.

Mobility, adaptability and quick reaction time are the order of the day when commanding an operational unit like 2 SA Infantry Battalion. The General Officer Commanding of the Infantry Formation instructed Cambinda to be on standby in Lohatla, Combat Training Centre since July, in preparation for a possible deployment. Cambinda stated that “as a deploying unit, my immediate priority is to get the Battalion combat ready. I am responsible for the welfare of my members, I need to ensure that the men and women are fine spiritually, physically and mentally and psychologically, this responsibility is not only to the members but also to their dependents.”

Cambinda assumed duty in Zeerust in November 2020 after being appointed, and she says, “to be headhunted to be the Officer Commanding of the best infantry unit in the country and continent, I say this without fear of contradiction, is a privilege and thus by far the highlight of my career.”

“My first deployment was in 2005 in the Democratic Republic of Congo as a Lieutenant, I was deployed as a Communications Officer, and again in 2006 as an Operations Officer. In 2008, I was in Burundi as a Company Second in Command. In 2011, I deployed internally in Musina, as an Operations Officer. From there, I have been transferred to various units; I have served in 7 SA Infantry in Phalaborwa and in 2013 I was appointed as a Combat Readiness Officer 15 SA Infantry in Venda and was later appointed as a Battalion Second in Command.”

Cambinda’s first stint at Commanding a unit was in 2015 when her Officer Commanding at the time went on Senior Staff Course for a year. It was during this time that she mobilised a Battalion for a deployment. In 2017, she was transferred to SA Army College, appointed first as a Directing Staff of the Junior Staff and Command Course, then later moved to be a Branch Commander to the Officer Commanding and Regimental Sergeant Major branch; it was during this time that Cambinda had the task of mentoring current Officers Commanding and Regimental Sergeant Majors as well as future leaders.

Cambinda completed Basic Military Training in 2002 at 3 SA Infantry Battalion Kimberley, and was selected to join the Junior Leaders programme and thereafter completed Officers Formative at the Army Gymnasium, Heidelberg. “It was during the Basic training that one of the instructors recognised that I have leadership qualities that can be nurtured and groomed to meet the military’s standards,” she said. “Leadership for me started at a very early age – I was a youth leader at church, I became a prefect and a head girl. I realised very early that I wanted to work with people.”

Cambinda prides herself on her academic achievements. She is a registered PhD student in African Leadership and says her focus area will be on women in leadership. She holds a BA Communications Science/Industrial Organisational Psychology, Honours Degree in B Administration (HR) with Southern Business College, and a Master’s Degree in Strategic Leadership with Studio Multiversity.