Families of SA Navy officials killed in submarine exercise ask for space and time to grieve

Vice Admiral Monde Lobese upon arrival at SAS Manthatisi. Picture: SA Navy

Vice Admiral Monde Lobese upon arrival at SAS Manthatisi. Picture: SA Navy

Published Sep 24, 2023


Families of the three South African Navy officials killed at sea during an exercise have asked for space and time to grieve.

In a statement on their behalf, the SA National Defence Force said it has taken note of all the enquiries and questions regarding the submarine incident and is requesting the media to allow the families time and space to mourn and honour the lives of the fallen sailors.

"The SANDF request members of the media to treat this tragedy with the sensitivity it deserves and to respect the privacy of the bereaved families. Allow the souls of the sailors to rest peacefully at this stage," said SANDF spokesperson, Brigadier General Andries Mokoena Mahapa.

On Wednesday, Lieutenant Commander Gillian Elizabeth Hector (Executive Officer), Master Warrant Officer William Masela Mathipa (Coxswain) and Warrant Officer Class One Mmokwapa Lucas Mojela (Coxswain under training) died after a wave reportedly washed them off the deck of the SAS Manthatisi.

From left to right, Vice Admiral Monde Lobese, Commander Charles Phokane and the late Lieutenant Commander Gillian Hector Picture: SA Navy

Following the funerals, the SANDF will convene a Board of Inquiry (BOI) to establish the circumstances of this devastating incident.

Chief of the South African Navy greeting the late Coxswain of SAS MANTHATISI, Master Warrant Officer William Mathipa Picture: SA Navy

Furthermore, the SANDF condemns all unfounded speculations regarding the circumstances that gave rise to the incident. Such speculations only add injury to already opened wounds.