Former Chief of the SA Army, Lieutenant General Lindile Yam sings along during his farewell at SANDF in Pretoria. Bongani Shilubane African News Agency (ANA)

Pretoria - In an auspicious and befitting manner, members of the SANDF bade farewell to the former chief of the SA Army, Lieutenant-General Lindile Yam, who will assume a new appointment as chief of staff.

This follows the recent promulgation of placement and promotions of the general officers and flag officers in the SANDF with effect from November 2019.

Around 100 soldiers took part in a farewell parade to honour the man they described as “simply the best”. Brass bands, choirs and gun salutes were also part of the ceremony.

“It is said by the wise that nothing is permanent except for change,” Yam said.

“I have served the SANDF unreservedly, often to the detriment of myself and my family.

“I did this because of my strong belief in loyalty to my country and its people. It is a special day for me but it is also a time to take up a new designation.”

Yam had been at the helm of the SA Army for decades and charged with the responsibility to command the largest military component of the SANDF. A decorated commander and militarist, Yam has now been appointed as chief of corporate staff.

He replaces the outgoing Lieutenant-General Vusumuzi Masondo, who in turn replaces the former military ombudsman, Lieutenant-General Themba Matanzima, who has retired.

The “smooth transition” for military ombudsman was hailed as an illustration of the maturity of the SANDF.

Born in 1960, Yam joined Umkhonto we Sizwe, the military wing of the ANC, in 1981 and became part of the SANDF in 1994, when all the forces were integrated.

He served as officer command- ing of 13 South African Infantry Battalion from November 1994 to November 1997.

He attended the Royal College of Defence Studies in 1995 for a Global Security Strategy Course.

He served as the 18th commandant of the South African Military Academy from 2009 to 2011.

He was promoted to major-general and was appointed as GOC South African Army Infantry Formation on November 1 2011.

He formally took over command on March 2, 2012, at a parade at the SA Army College in Thaba Tshwane.

He was promoted to lieutenant-general and assumed command of the SA Army in January 2016.

Yam replaced Masondo who is now the army ombudsman. The Office of the Military Ombudsman is an independent office tasked with the responsibility to ensure that complaints by current and former defence force members are investigated and resolved.

The ombudsman was established seven years ago and falls under the executive authority of Defence Minister Nosiwive Mapisa-Nqakula.

The Office of the Military Ombudsman, previously headed by retired Lieutenant-General Temba Matanzima, set itself 11 performance targets for the 2018/19 financial year according to the report. Only three were achieved - a 27% performance.

Another crucial target not achieved was 47% in finalising written complaints to the Ombudsman Office.

Pretoria News