And on Saturday, a day after the NMR celebrated its 164th anniversary with a parade at its city headquarters, Cele, 36, officially received the sword of command from the outgoing OC, Lieutenant-Colonel Mike Rowe, who has headed the historic regiment for the past 13 years.
“Being OC comes with a lot of challenges and a lot of responsibility,” Cele said on Sunday, adding that he had always wanted to be a soldier.
Brigadier-General Andre Retief, the General Officer Commanding the SA Army Armour formation, who travelled from Pretoria, welcomed Cele at the parade.
Cele is an avid runner and took part in the Ballito to Durban marathon last week.
He has his sights set on competing in the Comrades Marathon next year.
The outgoing OC has Natal colours for combat rifle shooting. He was awarded the John Chard Medal and the General Service Medal.