List of South African military chiefs

This article lists the South African military chiefs. From 1958 until the first post-apartheid general election in 1994, the present-day South African National Defence Force was known as the South African Defence Force. From 1912 to 1958, the military was known as the Union Defence Force.

In terms of section 202(1) of the Constitution of South Africa, the military command of the Defence Force consists of[1] the Chief of the Defence Force plus the Chiefs of the combat arms (Army, Air Force and Navy) as well as

  • the Surgeon-General of the South African Military Health Service;
  • the Chief of Joint Operations of the Defence Force;
  • the Chief of Defence Intelligence;
  • the Chief of Human Resources; and
  • the Chief of Logistics.

Head of the Defence Force

The Defence Force consists of the Army, Air Force, Navy, and Medical Service (which was renamed Military Health Service in 1998). The Chief of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) is the senior military commander and the chiefs of the four services, in addition to the chiefs of Joint Operations, Defence Intelligence, and Corporate Staff, report to him.[2] As of September 2018 the Chief of the SANDF is General Solly Shoke OMBG, SBS, MMS, OMS.

Chief of the UDF

The Union Defence Force (UDF) consisted initially of land forces. An aviation corps was formed in 1915 and replaced by the South African Air Force in 1920. A naval branch was added in 1922, and the South African Division of the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve was incorporated into it in 1942.

In 1951, the defence forces were reorganised into three distinct combat services: the South African Army, the South African Air Force, and the South African Navy. The organisation was renamed "South African Defence Force" in 1958.

The UDF had no overall commander for the first nine and a half years. From January 1922, the Chief of the General Staff, previously responsible only for the Defence Headquarters staff, was the executive commander of the UDF. The title was changed to 'Commandant General UDF' in September 1956.

No. Chief of the UDFTook officeLeft officeTime in officeDefence branchRef
1
Brink, AndriesMajor general
Andries Brink CBE, DTD, DSO
(1877–1947)
1 October 19221 May 193310 years, 212 days South African Army
2
Ryneveld, PierreGeneral
Sir Pierre van Ryneveld KBE, CB, DSO, MC
(1891–1972)
2 May 19331 May 194915 years, 364 days South African Air Force[3]
3
Beyers, LeonardLieutenant general
Leonard Beyers
(1894–1959)
2 May 194915 March 1950317 days South African Army
4
Toit, ChristiaanLieutenant general
Christiaan du Toit DSO
(1901–1982)
16 March 195022 September 19566 years, 190 days South African Army
5
Klopper, HendrikGeneral
Hendrik Klopper DSO
(1903–1977)
23 September 195624 September 19582 years, 1 day South African Army
6
Melville, StephenGeneral
Stephen Melville SSA, OBE
(1904–1977)
25 September 195831 October 195836 days South African Air Force

Chief of the SADF

The UDF was renamed 'South African Defence Force' in November 1958.[4] The Commandant General's title was then changed to 'Commandant General SADF'. It was changed to 'Chief of the SADF' in July 1973, after Admiral Hugo Biermann assumed the post the year before. After South Africa's first democratic election, the South African Defence Force (SADF) became the South African National Defence Force (SANDF).

No. Chief of the SADFTook officeLeft officeTime in officeDefence branchRef
1
Melville, StephenGeneral
Stephen Melville SSA, OBE
(1904–1977)
1 November 195831 December 19602 years, 60 days South African Air Force
2
Grobbelaar, PieterGeneral
Pieter Grobbelaar SSA, DSO
(1908–1988)
1 January 196131 December 19654 years, 364 days South African Army
3
Hiemstra, RudolphGeneral
Rudolph Hiemstra SSA, SM
(1912–2007)
1 January 196631 March 19726 years, 90 days South African Air Force
4
Biermann, HugoAdmiral
Hugo Biermann SSA, SD, OBE, GCIH
(1916–2012)
1 April 197231 August 19764 years, 152 days South African Navy
5
Malan, MagnusGeneral
Magnus Malan SSA, OMSG, SD, SM
(1930–2011)
1 September 19766 October 19804 years, 35 days South African Army
6
Viljoen, ConstandGeneral
Constand Viljoen SSA, SD, SOE, SM, MMM, ORB
(born 1933)
7 October 198030 October 19855 years, 23 days South African Army[5]
7
Geldenhuys, JohannesGeneral
Johannes Geldenhuys SSAS, SD, SOE, SM, GCIH, ORB
(1935–2018)
1 November 198531 October 19904 years, 364 days South African Army
8
Liebenberg, AndreasGeneral
Andreas Liebenberg SSAS, SD, SOE, SM, MMM
(1938–1998)
1 November 199031 October 19932 years, 364 days South African Army
9
Meiring, GeorgGeneral
Georg Meiring SSAS, SD, SM, MMM, ORB
(born 1939)
1 November 199330 April 1994180 days South African Army

Chief of the SANDF

The SADF amalgamated with the Azanian People's Liberation Army (APLA), Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK), and the homeland defence forces to form the South African National Defence Force in 1994. The SANDF was based on the existing SADF structure of Army, Air Force, Navy, and Medical Service (which was renamed Military Health Service in 1998).

No. Chief of the SANDFTook officeLeft officeTime in officeDefence branchRef
1
Meiring, GeorgGeneral
Georg Meiring SSAS, SD, SM, MMM, ORB
(born 1939)
27 April 199431 May 19984 years, 34 days South African Army
2
Nyanda, SiphiweGeneral
Siphiwe Nyanda SSA, SBS, CLS, DMG, MMS, MMM
(born 1950)
1 June 199831 May 20056 years, 364 days South African Army
3
Ngwenya, GodfreyGeneral
Godfrey Ngwenya SBG, DMG, MMS, LOM
(born 1950)
1 June 20051 May 20115 years, 334 days South African Army
4
Shoke, SollyGeneral
Solly Shoke OMBG, SBS, MMS, OMS
(born 1956)
2 May 2011Incumbent8 years, 227 days South African Army[6]

Chief of the Army

The Chief of the South African Army is the professional head of the Army. There was no separate army commander until 1948. The post was called 'Director-General of Land Forces'[7] 1948–51 and 'Army Chief of Staff' 1951–66, and has been 'Chief of the Army' since 1966.

No. Chief of the ArmyTook officeLeft officeTime in officeRef
1
du Toit, ChristianBrigadier
Christiaan du Toit DSO
(1901–1982)
10 November 194815 March 19501 year, 125 days[8]:92[7]
2
Klopper, HendrikBrigadier
Hendrik Klopper DSO
(1903–1977)
16 March 195030 April 19533 years, 45 days[8]:94
3
Grobbelaar, PieterMajor general
Pieter Grobbelaar SSA, DSO
(1908–1988)
1 May 195324 September 19585 years, 146 days[8]:93
4
Bierman, NickMajor general
Nick Bierman SSA, SM, CBE
(1910–1977)
25 September 195831 October 19591 year, 36 days[8]:89
5
Engelbrecht, SybrandMajor general
Sybrand Engelbrecht SM
(1913–1994)
1 November 19593 March 19633 years, 122 days[8]:92
6
Jacobs, PetrusMajor general
Petrus Jacobs SSA, SM
(1910–1967)
4 March 196331 December 19652 years, 302 days[8]:93
7
Fraser, CharlesLieutenant general
Charles 'Pop' Fraser SSA, SM
(1915–1994)
1 January 196630 November 19671 year, 333 days[8]:92
8
Louw, WillemLieutenant general
Willem Louw SSA, SM
(1920–1980)
1 December 196730 June 19735 years, 211 days[8]:94
9
Malan, MagnusLieutenant general
Magnus Malan SSA, OMSG, SD, SM
(1930–2011)
1 July 197331 August 19763 years, 61 days[8]:95
10
Viljoen, ConstandLieutenant general
Constand Viljoen SSA, SD, SOE, SM, MMM, ORB
(born 1933)
1 September 19766 October 19804 years, 30 days
11
Geldenhuys, JohannesLieutenant general
Johannes Geldenhuys SSA, SD, SOE, SM, MMM, GCIH, ORB
(1935–2018)
7 October 198030 October 19855 years, 23 days[8]:92
12
Liebenberg, AndreasLieutenant general
Andreas Liebenberg SSAS, SD, SOE, SM, MMM
(1938–1998)
1 November 198528 February 19904 years, 119 days
13
Meiring, GeorgLieutenant general
Georg Meiring SSA, SD, SM, MMM, ORB
(born 1939)
1 March 199031 October 19933 years, 244 days
14
Pretorius, HattinghLieutenant general
Hattingh Pretorius SD, SM, MMM
(1942–2008)
1 November 199331 December 19941 year, 60 days
15
Otto, ReginaldLieutenant general
Reginald Otto SD & Bar, SM, MMM
(born 1943)
1 January 199530 June 19983 years, 180 days
16
Ramano, GilbertLieutenant general
Gilbert Ramano SSAS, SD, MMS, MMM, MMB
(born 1939)
1 July 199831 May 20045 years, 335 days
17
Shoke, SollyLieutenant general
Solly Shoke OMBG, SBS, MMS, OMS
(born 1956)
1 June 20041 May 20116 years, 334 days
18
Masondo, VusumuziLieutenant general
Vusumuzi Masondo MMM
(born 1957)
1 October 201131 January 20164 years, 122 days[9]
19
Yam, LindileLieutenant general
Lindile Yam
(born 1960)
1 February 201631 October 20193 years, 272 days[10]
20
De Goede, MannetjiesMajor general
Mannetjies de Goede (acting)
1 November 2019--[11]
21
Mokhose, ThabisoLieutenant general
Thabiso Mokhosi
1 November 201910 December 20191 Month, 10 Days[11][12][13][14]

Lieutenant general Werndly van der Riet spent some time acting as Head of the Army.[8]:98

Chief of the Air Force

The Chief of the South African Air Force is the professional head of the Air Force. The post was called 'Director of Air Services' 1920–33, 'Director of Air & Technical Services' 1937–39, 'Director-General of Air Services' 1939–41, 'Director-General of the Air Force' 1941–51, and 'Air Chief of Staff' 1951–66, and has been 'Chief of the Air Force' since 1966.

No. Chief of the Air ForceTook officeLeft officeTime in officeRef
1
van Ryneveld, PierreColonel
Sir Pierre van Ryneveld KBE, CB, DSO, MC
(1891–1972)
1 February 192030 September 193717 years, 241 days[15]
2
Hoare, FrancisColonel
Francis Hoare CB, CBE
(1879–1959)
1 October 193731 October 193730 days
3
Daniel, HectorLieutenant colonel
Hector Daniel CBE, MC, AFC
(1898–1953)
1 November 193712 September 19392 years, 41 days
4
Holthouse, JohnColonel
John Holthouse OBE
(1891–1964)
13 September 193930 September 19401 year, 17 days
5
Venter, ChristoffelMajor general
Christoffel Venter CB, DFC & bar
(1892–1977)
1 October 194016 October 19455 years, 15 days
6
Willmott, HaroldBrigadier
Harold Willmott CBE
(1899–1993)
17 October 194510 September 1946328 days
7
Durrant, JimmyBrigadier
James 'Jimmy' Durrant CB, DFC
(1913–1990)
1 October 194630 June 19514 years, 272 days
(6)
Willmott, HaroldBrigadier
Harold Willmott CBE
(1899–1993)
1 July 195124 August 19543 years, 54 days
8
Melville, StephenBrigadier
Stephen Melville SSA, OBE
(1904–1977)
25 August 195422 September 19562 years, 28 days
9
Viljoen, BarendMajor general
Barend Viljoen SSA, OBE
(1908–1995)
23 September 195630 April 19658 years, 219 days
10
Martin, KalfieLieutenant general
Henry 'Kalfie' Martin SM, CBE, DFC
(1910–2000)
1 May 196530 November 19672 years, 213 days
11
Verster, JacobusLieutenant general
Jacobus Verster SSA, SM
(1919–1981)
1 December 196728 February 19757 years, 89 days
12
Rogers, BobLieutenant general
Robert 'Bob' Rogers SSA, SM, MMM, DSO, DFC & bar
(1921–2000)
1 March 197530 November 19794 years, 274 days
13
Muller, MichalLieutenant general
Michal Muller SSAS, SD
(born 1930)
1 December 197929 February 19844 years, 90 days
14
Earp, DenisLieutenant general
Denis Earp SSA, SD, SM, SOE
(born 1930)
1 March 198430 June 19884 years, 121 days
15
van Loggerenberg, JanLieutenant general
Jan van Loggerenberg SSAS, SD, SOE, SM, MMM, ORB
(born 1935)
1 July 198831 October 19913 years, 122 days
16
Kriel, JamesLieutenant general
James Kriel SSAS, SD, SM, MMM
(1942–2016)
1 November 199130 April 19964 years, 181 days
17
Hechter, WillemLieutenant general
Willem Hechter SSA, SD, SM, MMM
(born 1942)
1 May 199629 February 20003 years, 304 days[15]
18
Beukes, RoelfLieutenant general
Roelf Beukes SD, SM, MMM
1 March 200028 February 20054 years, 364 days
19
Gagiano, CarloLieutenant general
Carlo Gagiano SM, MMM
(born 1951)
1 March 200530 September 20127 years, 213 days
20
Msimang, FabianLieutenant general
Fabian Msimang SM, MMM
(born 1960)
1 October 2012Incumbent7 years, 75 days[16]

Chief of the Navy

The Chief of the South African Navy is the professional head of the Navy. The post was called 'Officer Commanding South African Naval Service' 192232, 'Director, Seaward Defence Force' 194042, 'Director, South African Naval Forces' 194251, 'Naval & Marine Chief of Staff' 195155, and 'Naval Chief of Staff' 195566, and has been 'Chief of the Navy' since 1966.

No. Chief of the NavyTook officeLeft officeTime in officeRef
1
Rankin, NormanCommander
Norman Rankin
1 April 19223 June 19286 years, 63 days
2
Fitzgerald, RobertCommander
Robert F.U.P. Fitzgerald
4 June 19284 November 19324 years, 153 days
Position of the Chief of the Navy did not exist from 1932–39[lower-alpha 1]
3
Hallifax, GuyRear admiral
Guy Hallifax CMG
(1884–1941)
16 September 193928 March 1941 1 year, 193 days
4
Dalgleish, JamesCommodore
James Dalgleish CBE
(1891–1964)
28 March 194130 November 19465 years, 247 days
5
Dean, FrederickCommodore
Frederick Dean OBE
(1900–1983)
1 December 194630 June 19514 years, 211 days
6
de Waal, PieterBrigadier
Pieter de Waal CB, CBE
(1899–1977)
1 July 195130 November 19521 year, 152 days
7
Biermann, HugoVice admiral
Hugo Biermann SSA, SD, OBE, GCIH
(1916–2012)
1 December 195231 March 197219 years, 121 days
8
Johnson, JamesVice admiral
James 'Flam' Johnson SSA, SM, DSC
(1918–1990)
1 April 197230 September 19775 years, 182 days
9
Walters, Johan CharlVice admiral
Johan Charl Walters SD, SM, MMM
(1919–1993)
1 October 197730 January 19802 years, 121 days
10
Edwards, Ronald A.Vice admiral
Ronald A. Edwards SSAS, SM, MMM
(1923–2014)
1 February 198030 September 19822 years, 241 days
11
Putter, AndriesVice admiral
Andries P 'Dries' Putter SSAS, SD, MMM
(1935–2014)
1 October 198230 June 19852 years, 272 days
12
Syndercombe, GlenVice admiral
Glen Syndercombe SSA, SD, SOE, SM, MMM
(1931–2005)
1 July 198531 March 19893 years, 273 days
(11)
Putter, AndriesVice admiral
Andries P 'Dries' Putter SSAS, SD, MMM
(1935–2014)
1 April 198930 June 19901 year, 90 days
13
Woodburne, LambertVice admiral
Lambert J 'Woody' Woodburne DVR, SD, SM
(1939–2013)
1 July 199031 August 19922 years, 61 days
14
Simpson-Anderson, RobertVice admiral
Robert Simpson-Anderson SSAS, SD, SM, MMM
(born 1942)
1 September 199231 October 20008 years, 60 days
15
Retief, JohanVice admiral
Johan Retief SD & Bar, PG, SM, MMM
(born 1946)
1 November 200028 February 20054 years, 119 days
16
Mudimu, Refiloe JohannesVice admiral
Refiloe Johannes Mudimu CLS, DMG, SM, MMS, MMM, MMB
(born 1954)
1 March 200531 March 20149 years, 30 days[17]
17
Hlongwane, SamuelVice admiral
Samuel Hlongwane MMS, MMB
(born 1962)
1 April 2014Incumbent5 years, 258 days

Surgeon General

The Surgeon General is the Chief of the South African Military Health Service (SAMHS), which was known as the South African Medical Service (SAMS) before 1994.

No. Surgeon GeneralTook officeLeft officeTime in officeRef
South African Medical Service
1
Raymond, EugeneMajor general
Eugene Raymond SSA, SM
(born 1923)
1 February 196031 March 19699 years, 58 days
2
Cockcroft, ColinLieutenant general
Colin Cockcroft SSA, SM
(1917–1987)
1 April 196931 October 19778 years, 213 days
3
Nieuwoudt, NicolaasLieutenant general
Nicolaas Nieuwoudt SSA, SD, SM
(1929–1989)
1 November 197729 February 198810 years, 120 days
4
Knobel, DanielLieutenant general
Daniel Knobel SD, SOE, SM, MMM, KStJ, MBC, HB, PHD
(born 1936)
1 March 198827 April 19946 years, 57 days
South African Military Health Service
1
Knobel, DanielLieutenant general
Daniel Knobel SD, SOE, SM, MMM, KStJ, MBC, HB, PHD
(born 1936)
27 April 199430 November 19973 years, 217 days
2
Masuku, DavidsonLieutenant general
Davidson Masuku SSAS, MMM, KStJ
(1940–2000)
1 December 199730 September 20002 years, 334 days[18]
3
Rensburg, Jurinus JanseLieutenant general
Jurinus Janse van Rensburg SD, SM, MMM, KStJ
(born 1952)
1 October 200031 July 20054 years, 303 days
4
Ramlakan, VejaynandLieutenant general
Vejaynand Ramlakan DMG, MMS, MMB, KStJ
(born 1957)
1 August 200531 March 20137 years, 242 days
5
Sedibe, AubreyLieutenant general
Aubrey Sedibe DMG, MMS, MMB, OStJ, MBC, HB, PHD
(born 1957)
1 April 201331 October 20196 years, 213 days
6
Dabula, ZolaLieutenant general
Zola Dabula
1 November 2019Incumbent44 days[12]

Chief of Joint Operations

No. Chief of Joint OperationsTook officeLeft officeTime in officeDefence branchRef
1
Ferreira, DeonLieutenant general
Deon Ferreira PVD, SD, SM, MMM
(1946–2002)
1 August 199731 December 20003 years, 152 days South African Army
2
Ngwenya, GodfreyLieutenant general
Godfrey Ngwenya SBG, DMG, MMS, LOM
(born 1950)
1 January 200131 May 20054 years, 150 days South African Army
3
Binda, SiphoLieutenant general
Sipho Binda MMS
(1952–2006)
1 June 200510 November 2006 1 year, 162 days South African Army[19]
4
Matanzima, ThembaLieutenant general
Themba Matanzima CCM, SM, MMM
(born 1953)
1 September 200730 September 20114 years, 29 days South African Army
5
Mgwebi, DerrickLieutenant general
Derrick Mgwebi
(born 1956)
1 October 201131 January 20164 years, 122 days South African Army[9]
6
Mdutyana, DumaLieutenant general
Duma Mdutyana MMB
(1960–2016)
1 February 20166 July 2016 156 days South African Army[20]
7
Hlatshwayo, BarneyLieutenant general
Barney Hlatshwayo
(born 1958)
1 January 201731 October 20192 years, 303 days South African Army
8
Maphwanya, RudzaniLieutenant general
Rudzani Maphwanya
(born -)
1 November 2019-- South African Army[12]

Chief of Corporate Staff

The Chief of Corporate Staff is responsible for the provision of all staff services for the SANDF.[21]

No. Chief of Corporate StaffTook officeLeft officeTime in officeDefence branchRef
1
Trainor, MartynVice admiral
Martyn Trainor SD, SM, MMM
(born 1944)
1 October 200031 January 20043 years, 122 days South African Navy
2
Matanzima, ThembaLieutenant general
Themba Matanzima CCM, SM, MMM
(born 1953)
1 February 200431 July 20051 year, 180 days South African Army
3
Rensburg, Jurinus JanseLieutenant general
Jurinus Janse van Rensburg SD, SM, MMM, KStJ
(born 1952)
1 August 200530 April 20104 years, 272 daysSouth African Military Health Service
Dlulane, LouisMajor general
Louis Dlulane
(born 1952)
Acting
1 May 201030 March 20132 years, 333 days South African Army[22]
4
Ramlakan, VejaynandLieutenant general
Vejaynand Ramlakan DMG, MMS, MMB, KStJ
(born 1957)
1 April 201331 May 20152 years, 60 daysSouth African Military Health Service[22]
5
Masondo, VusumuziLieutenant general
Vusumuzi Masondo MMM
(born 1957)
1 February 2016Incumbent3 years, 272 days South African Army[22]
6
Yam, LindiweLieutenant general
Lindile Yam
1 November 2019Incumbent- South African Army[12]

Notes

  1. During this period, the Navy disposed of its ships and reduced personnel to a few administrative staff due to the Great Depression.

References

  1. "Chapter 1 : Introductory Provisions 4A. Military Command of Defence Force". Defence Act (Act No. 42 of 2002). Parliament of South Africa. 2002.
  2. Defence Act (Act No. 42 of 2002). Parliament of South Africa. 2002.
  3. Ellis, Johan (2000). "Oswald Pirow's Five-Year Plan for the Reorganisation of the Union Defence Force, 1933–1938". South African Journal of Military Studies. 30 (2).
  4. http://www.dod.mil.za/documents/acts/defence%20act44of1957.pdf
  5. Hamann, Hilton (2001). "Introduction". Days of the Generals. Cape Town: Zebra Press (Struck Publishers). ISBN 1-86872-340-2.
  6. "Chief of the SANDF, General S. Shoke". Department of Defence. Retrieved 16 January 2018.
  7. Lillie, Ashley C. (2012). "The Origin and Development of the South African Army". Scientia Militaria - South African Journal of Military Studies. 12 (2). doi:10.5787/12-2-618. ISSN 2224-0020.
  8. Nöthling, C.J.; Meyers, E.M. (1982). "LEIERS DEUR DIE JARE (1912-1982)". Scientia Militaria - South African Journal of Military Studies (in Afrikaans). 12 (2): 89–98. doi:10.5787/12-2-631. ISSN 2224-0020.
  9. "SANDF support to Springbok".
  10. "Yam takes over from Masondo as Army Chief". defenceweb.co.za. DefenceWeb. 19 January 2016. Retrieved 19 January 2016.
  11. "De Goede acting Army chief until next year". Defense Web. 7 November 2019. Retrieved 13 November 2019.
  12. "New chiefs of SA Army, Joint Operations, SAMHS announced". Defence Web. 11 October 2019. Retrieved 13 November 2019.
  13. Siphiwe Dlamini (10 December 2019). "SANDF Media Advisory; sandf announces the untimely passing away of the Chief of the Army". Pretoria: Ministry of Defence and Military Veterans, Defence Headquarters.
  14. "President Ranaphosa mourns passing of Chief of the Army, Lt Gen Mokhosi". 10 December 2019.
  15. "Fact file: Chiefs of the SA Air Force". DefenceWeb.co.za. 21 January 2010. Retrieved 24 July 2014.
  16. Guy Martin (1 October 2012). "Gagiano hands over command of SAAF". DefenceWeb.
  17. Helfrich, Kim (23 January 2014). "Hlongwane named new Navy Chief". Defenceweb. Retrieved 23 January 2014.
  18. Leon Engelbrecht (26 November 2008). "Fact file: Surgeons General". defenceweb.co.za.
  19. "Binda had a long and distinguished military career". Sowetan. 24 November 2006. Retrieved 6 October 2014.
  20. "Head of SANDF joint operations, Duma Mdutyana dies". ENCA. 6 July 2016. Retrieved 6 July 2016.
  21. "Defence Amendment Bill 2002" (PDF). Retrieved 24 November 2014.
  22. "New Chief of Corporate Staff Services for SANDF". defenceweb.co.za. DefenceWeb. 22 March 2013. Retrieved 23 December 2014.
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