A former homeland defence chief will head the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) Joint Operations, it was announced on Thursday.

Lieutenant General Themba Templeton Matanzima, who once headed the former homeland Transkei's Defence Force, would assume his new position as Chief of Joint Operations on September 1, Defence Minister Mosiuoa Lekota said in a statement.

The Chief of Joint Operations is responsible for the deployment of South African troops on peacekeeping and other operations, the biggest task the defence force currently has.

The position has been vacant since November last year when Lieutenant-General Sipho Binda died shortly after having minor surgery.

Major General Derrick Mbuyiselo Mgwebi, the first South African to command a United Nations (UN) Peacekeeping operation would be promoted to the rank of Lieutenant General and take over from Matanzima as Chief of Human Resources.

Matanzima led the Transkei Defence Force during the integration in the 1990's and was appointed as General Officer Commanding of the Transkei Defence Force Closing Down Headquarters.

He was later appointed as the General Officer Commanding Eastern Province Command in 1996.

During this time he applied for amnesty, which was granted, from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission for his role in training soldiers and supplying arms to the African National Congress and Pan Africanist Congress between 1989 and 1994 in the Transkei.

Matanzima held several positions in the SANDF including Chief Director Corporate Services at the Army Office, Chief of Personnel and thereafter Chief of Joint Support.

He also held the position as Chief of Corporate Staff on the staff of Chief of the South African National Defence Force in 2004.

In August 2005, Matanzima was appointed as Chief of Human Resources, the position he currently holds.

Mgwebi, who succeeds Matanzima as Chief of Human Resources began his military career in 1978 and he held positions including Director Special Forces and then Director Training and Operations, General Officer Commanding of the SA Army Infantry Formation and also served as General Officer Commanding Joint Operations Operational Headquarters.

In 2004 he has served as the Force Commander of the African Union Mission in Burundi.

He subsequently became the Force Commander of the United Nations Mission in Burundi.

He is currently the Chief of Army Force Preparation. - Sapa