South Africa: Military members sacrifice family time for service

South Africa: Being in the military, members tend to travel a lot and stay away from home. Members of the Protection Services mustering are one of the few who see the outside world more than they see their families.

South Africa: Being in the military, members tend to travel a lot and stay away from home. Members of the Protection Services mustering are one of the few who see the outside world more than they see their families.

Corporal Amogelang Phalatse is a Very Important People (VIP) Protector at the South African Air Force Headquarters. She is the protector of the first lady of the SA Air Force, Dr Thokozani Mbambo.

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“As protectors, we do not choose the dignitaries we wish to protect; instead, they are chosen for us, and I am lucky to be granted the opportunity to protect the wife of Chief of the South African Air Force, Lieutenant General Wiseman Mbambo,” she added.

One would, of course, wonder if the protectors and their principals have conversations while travelling to their respective destinations or if silence is golden until they reach their stop. We see them at events, professional and sombre, but not Corporal Phalatse and Dr Mbambo. The duo portrays a connection, a compatible connection; one would swear that they are even related.

When asked about her working relationship with Dr Mbambo, Corporal Phalatse said, “Dr Mbambo’s work ethic is amazing. She allows me to be more than just a protector. She can easily see when something is troubling me, and she automatically becomes a mother to me and pours out advice as if my own mother is right beside me.”

Corporal Phalatse was born and raised in Ga-Rankuwa, in the North of Pretoria. She is the firstborn to her mother, Mrs Adelaide Phalatse, who she kept referring to as ‘megastar’. Corporal Phalatse left her family in 2008 and willingly joined the SA Air Force to make a name for herself. It was in 2021 when she decided to take the next step in her career and underwent the VIP Protector course. “I believed that it would be one of the many courses I have endured; I did not hesitate.”

“I have never come across a determined young soldier like Corporal Phalatse; she is a hard worker, and her relationship with her colleagues and mentors is excellent for the organisation. I can safely say that Corporal Phalatse is a great asset to the South African National Defence Force and the country at large”, said Captain Nobert Mphofu from Air Force Base Hoedspruit, who has worked with Corporal Phalatse on numerous courses.

Corporal Phalatse completed the following courses in Protection Mustering:

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• Basic Military Training;
• Aviation Ground Protection;
• Drill Instructor Course;
• Weapon Instructor;
• NQF Level 4;
• First Aider Course and
• Regimental Instructors Course.

It’s clear that family understanding; strengthens and encourages self-sufficiency in the serving members and also enhances mission readiness, and eases the hearts that long for soldiers when they are away from home.

“I survive the frequent trips by regularly keeping in touch with my family. Their support gives me enough courage to keep on track, and hearing their voices remains a constant reminder as to why I am doing what I do.”

Six things to know about how Corporal Phalatse deals with conflict or difference of opinion in her line of work:

• Being respectful, patient and empathetic.
• Give everyone a chance to speak.
• Set boundaries.
• Takes constructive criticism.
• Never suppresses a conflict; deal with it and move on.
• Ask for advice when not sure.