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AFB Hoedspruit: Change of Command Parade 
Article by Cpl Lebogang Ramaboea, Photos by Cpl Manana Mokoatle

Air Force Base (AFB) Hoedspruit on 30 March 2017 held the change of command parade for three senior officers on the base. The event follows a similar one held by AFB Swartkop earlier in the month where three new officers took command.

Colonel Riaan Frederick van Wyk the new OC of SAAF Gymnasium

Col Riaan Frederick van Wyk took over command of the Air Force (AF) Gymnasium from the newly promoted Brig Gen Kevin Moonsamy. Brig Gen Moonsamy had been in charge of the training unit from 01 January 2011. Col van Wyk was born in Bellville in the Western Cape Province on 22 June 1960. “I matriculated at Swartland High School in Malmesbury in 1977. The following year on completion of my schooling days after completing the Regimental Instructors course (1978) I joined the South African Air Force (SAAF) as a permanent member,” says Col van Wyk.

Col van Wyk has a diploma from now defunct Pretoria Technikon currently known as Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) and a Diploma in Organisational Work Study, both obtained in 1992. He also holds a Senior Command and Staff Course qualification which he obtained in 2001. “I am not a stranger to the post of Officer Commanding (OC). I previously served as the OC of SAAF Headquarters Unit between 2004 and 2007. I was privileged to be the first South African to graduate in the Executive Program in Advance Security Studies at the George C. Marshall European Centre for Security Studies,” says Col van Wyk. This was in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany in 2008. Col van Wyk is married to Marietjie, the couple have two sons Rick and Le Roux.

Air Force Command and Control School also saw a change in leadership with Brig Gen Elma de Villiers handing over command to Col Nation Mokgwabone. The Taung, North West Province officer was born on 08 May 1979.

“I completed my grade 12 at P.H. Moreetsi Agricultural High School in 1996 in Taung, in that year we had a visit from blue wearing uniform people at first I thought they were police officers. No, they were soldiers from the Air Force coming to tell us about various careers available for us in their organisation. The following year ’13 January 1997’ I joined the SAAF,” says Col Mokgwabone.

Back: Lt Col Nico Swarts and Lt Col Rapule Boshomane
Front: Col Nation Mokgwabone, Brig Gen Elma de Villiers, Brig Gen Kevin Moonsamy and Col Riaan van Wyk

In 1999 Col Mokgwabone completed the Officers Formative Training, in the following year he started training as an Air Traffic Controller (ATC). In 2004, Col Mokgwabone was sent to South Korea to do Approach Control Course. Col Mokgwabone has worked at Air Force Base (AFB) Waterkloof as an ATC, he was also an ATC at AFB Makhado. “When I left AFB Makhado I was transferred to Air Force Command and Control School between 2005 and 2010 as an Air Traffic Control Instructor,” says Col Mokgwabone.

Three Creers for the outgoing Officer Commanding

“I still remember the day in January 2011 when I was transferred to AFB Waterkloof, as the first black Chief Air Traffic Controller in the SAAF,” he says. Col Mokgwabone is a proud father to a daughter, Kagoentle born on 27 January 2015.

The last change of the evening saw Lt Col Rapule August Boshomane hand over the reigns of 514 Squadron to new OC, Lt Col Nico Swarts who was born on 25 September 1969. Lt Col Swarts joined the South African Army (SA Army) as a Voluntary Serviceman and served at 2 SA Cape Corps in 1988. Lt Col Swarts hails from Beaufort West (Central Karoo). He compleated his matric in 1987.

He joined the SAAF on 22 March 1990, Since then he has held various  positions of leadership:

·         VIP Protection Coordinater – Defence Headquaters

·         Protection Services Career Manager

·         Training Officer of Basic Military Training

·         Officer Commanding 506 Squadron – AFB Bloemspriut

·         Officer Commanding 525 Squadron – AFB Overberg

·         Officer Commanding 526 Squadron – AFB Langebaanweg

·         Training Coordinator SAAF Gymnasium

·         Efficiency Coordinator SAAF Gymnasium

Lt Col Swarts holds a National Diploma in Human Resource Management from University of South Africa (UNISA), and a National Diploma in the Planning and Execution of Military Operations and Senior Management Program from TUT. “I am currently in my finaly year towards a B Law degree,” says Lt Col Swarts. The new OC Lt Col Swarts is the elders in a family of six childen. Lt Col Swarts is married to Lizelle, together they have three daughters Rozaan, Abigail, Nichol and a son Davan and they are grandparents to Stephany and Jamy.


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