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Article by Sgt Tebogo Kekana, Ad Astra Magazine, photos by Cpl Mabelina Mokoatle

Col Eugene Motati, the Programme Director for the day, called the outgoing Deputy Chief of the South African Air Force (SAAF), Maj Gen Gerald Malinga, “a legend in uniform”. That could be true, considering that he spent almost 42 years serving the National Defence Force. His illustrious enriching journey, attending to different Directorates, has not been short of valuable lessons that he related at his retreat address at AFB Waterkloof on 25 May 2015.

Maj Gen Gerald Malinga bids SA Air Force a farewell

He indeed did it his way as Frank Sinatra sang, trying to package all that he represented while in uniform, holding key offices, Gen Malinga said, “I stand before you here, with mixed feelings, although retirement marks the end of an era for me, given the chance, I would do it again, exactly the same as what I have done to date, without any doubt.

After integrating into the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) in 1995, from the Azanian People’s Liberation Army (APLA), I have numerous highlights where I was afforded the chance to truly live my dream. One that stands out is when I was appointed Officer Commanding of 41 Squadron, making me the first black airman to command a flying squadron. It filled my heart with gladness when I was a commander of 21 Squadron at AFB Waterkloof as well.

The retiring Dep CAF swears by his love for aviation that kept him passionate throughout his tenure

We have shared many memorable moments, we have faced diverse challenges, overcame those we could and managed those we couldn’t as best as we could for the benefit of the organisation. I worked under the leadership whom, I without any doubt, consider military legends of South Africa. In the same vein, the peers and subordinates that I interacted with were of a very high calibre, I am forever grateful. ”

Gen Malinga urged those who will be retiring soon, to persevere and paid homage to everyone that crossed his path directly and indirectly. He thanked his wife Mrs Faith Malinga for, “Standing with me and supporting me every inch of the way, that made me endure of living by military demand, and not by choice. Thank you Lt Gen Zimpande Msimang for your leadership, support and the confidence you had in me, I can only wish you and the SAAF the best for the future. With you and your Command Council, I remain confident that the Air Force is in good hands. To my successor, Brig Gen Mzayifani Buthelezi, yours will be a successful endevour. To members on parade, the entertainment band, Directorate Corporate Staff Services (DCSS), Directorate Supply Support and (DSS) and SAAF College, salute!”

Maj Gen Gerald Malinga thanked Lt Gen Zimpande Msimang for his leadership and support

The retiree’s driver, Sgt Elia Manthoadi reminisced about working closely with the man who is counted among those whose service guaranteed that Africa’s freedom, South Africa’s freedom in particular, is celebrated and said, “The Gen, I call him my sounding board, has served with diligence, so that we may live as we wish in this land of the free. Today, as we honour him, may we always remember that serving one’s country is the ultimate expression of love for family, friends and the country.“

Sgt Elia Manthoadi says he learnt a lot from working with Maj Gen Malinga

The truism in Sgt Manthoadi’s words were echoed by the retired Col Nthago Motaung when he added that, “I am borrowing my words from Ronald Reagan who said - Some people live an entire lifetime and wonder if they have made a difference in the world, but soldiers don’t have that problem. Gen Malinga’s mastered the art of bravery because he was the only one who knew when he was afraid. We sleep safely in our beds because brave men like him stood ready in the night to sort out those who would harm us.”

Lt Col Nthabeleng Mathye was emotional when she was asked to say what she will remember Gen Malinga’s tenure by, “Gen Malinga’s guideposts has always stood out like a ten-fold beacon in the night: Duty, Honour and Country. His basic plan of operation has always been to advance and to keep on advancing regardless of whether he will have to go over it, under it, or through each challenge. For the service you have volunteered, in these great challenges facing Africa and the world, I present you sincere thanks from myself and my country.”


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