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Aviation Enthusiast Laid To Rest
 Article and Photos by Cpl Lebogang Ramaboea, Ad Astra Magazine

Corporal Mpho George Keetile (Tshepiso), an aviation enthusiast from Siyandiza was laid to rest on 19 July 2014 in Ganyesa, 70km from Vryburg, North West Province. He was accorded a Semi-Military Funeral as military custom dictated.

Locals braved the shivering cold morning weather to witness a military funeral, a first in the dusty streets of Ganyesa. The residents held their mobile phones in hand taking pictures and video, recording a historic moment unfolding in their township.

Charplain Wonke Buqa leading the pall bearers on a slow-march

Chaplain Buqa read from Genesis 41: 37 “The plan seemed good to Pharaoh and to all his officials. 38 So Pharaoh asked them, “Can we find anyone like this man, one in whom is the spirit of God”. He said fewer men who were like the late Cpl Keetile. Many man will join and work for the organisation, but none compare to him. He was uttering words that most of the speakers said. His childhood friend, Mr Modiri Gaebuelwe said he would always miss his mentor. Mr Gaebuelwe sobbed as he recalled their childhood pranks.

Cpl Keetile’s last words to his mother, Ms Grace Keetile were “let me rush to work because I have to prepare activities for the 67 minutes of Mandela Day”. She then replied him by “go well my son and come back”. She said it has become sad now “because he did not return and a big hole has been left in my heart, my problem solver is no more”.

Ms Keetile said it was a pity she was not a uniform member, because she wanted to salute her son, “but I salute the air force for keeping and looking after my son”. In thanking the SAAF, she said “Le he re ka arohana, dipelo di tla nne di kopane” (Even if we are to part our hearts would always be connected).

Colonel George Ramaremisa hands over the storm flag to Cpl Keetile's mother as his little brother Phenyo looks on

Furthermore, she advised Siyandiza to keep flying and keep Cpl Keetile’s legacy alive, herself a youth developer said she is willing to assist if needs be. Cpl Keetile is survived by a 4-years-old daughter Mohau, mother and two brothers (Bakang and Phenyo).

Cpl Keetile was born on 16 December 1983 in Ganyesa started with primary schooling at Ganyesa Primary School in 1989. On completion on grade 7 Keetile left Ganyesa Primary. He then went to Tong Comprehensive School where he matriculated. On completion of grade 12, Mpho enrolled at Soshanguve Technical Collage until 2004. Mpho with his N-Courses qualifications joined the South African Air Force (SAAF) in the same year.

According to his mother, joining the organisation was not easy for her son. She added that after numerous attempts her son embraced the blue uniform. It is evident that Cpl Keetile loved the SAAF as he served the organisation for almost 10 years. Mpho met his untimely death still part of the SAAF’s aviation awareness programme.

Ms Grace Keetile and Phenyo sob as the body of Mpho was commited into the soil

Colonel Naomi Major, Senior Staff Officer (SSO) of Siyandiza said she would miss the workaholic in Corporal Mpho Keetile. She said he was a man that could seat with senior officers and convince them to buy into his ideas about aviation awareness.

Many of his colleagues spoke about his having spread his knowledge of aviation with South Africa’s youth. Siyandiza in conjunction with the Department of Basic Education (DBE) manages to visit schools in all nine provinces teaching young people about aviation.


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