UKZN Medical Alumnus Appointed SANDF Surgeon General

President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the new leadership of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) on 14 April.

The University is proud that alumnus, Major General Ntshavheni Maphaha, known by his UKZN peers as “Peter” has been appointed Surgeon General of the SANDF with effect from 1 November 2021.

Maphaha is a proud UKZN alumnus who studied for his MBChB degree at the then University of Natal Medical School from 1985 to 1990.

‘I am excited and apprehensive about this appointment. It has been always my dream to ascend through the ranks of the South African Military Health Services (SAMHS). It is indeed every officer’s wish. I was a bit apprehensive when I started realising the magnitude of the responsibilities which come with the position. However, I believe that I can deal with the challenges and responsibilities as my experience and training in and outside the military, have equipped me for them,’ he said. He joined the SANDF as a captain.

Maphaha was born in Thohoyandou, Venda in Limpopo in 1966. Married with two children, he has served as a military medical doctor in the SAMHS. Having served the military for most of his professional career, he also regards himself as a professional soldier as he completed all military training from basic officer to the highest military strategic leadership courses. He has participated in numerous military deployments in the country and around the world, including two years with United Nations Peace Keeping Missions in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and four in Liberia, West Africa.

Like most young doctors, he spent the first few years of his medical career in a rural hospital. He decided to open a General Practice Surgery and it happened to be next to a military base. Most of his patients were soldiers because there was no doctor in their sickbay. The Military Medical Services recruited him and the rest is history.

Maphaha described life in the military as an adventure that enabled him to travel the world on many humanitarian, peace keeping and rescue missions.

‘The military was a chance occurrence, but I never regretted that choice. My friends and colleagues have always asked me why. It is an adventure and I am doing what I love,’ he said.

Words: Lihle Sosibo

Photograph: Supplied