Honour for a long, dream career

Honour for a long, dream career

Honour for a long, dream career

Durban – Naval Captain Edwin Nyathi is living his dream.

One that started after his friend reported back from a visit to Pretoria that “men dressed in white” he had bumped into in the street were from the navy and were recruiting. The friend had known to ask them because he knew Nyathi had been keen on the force since his childhood deep inland, north of Hammanskraal in Limpopo.

The SA Navy band performs at the award ceremony for members who have served for 20 years. Among its tunes was a version of the global hit “Jerusalema”. Picture: Shelley Kjonstad

“I had watched movies about navies,” said the 51-year-old captain who is based at Salisbury Island and in charge of patrol vessels.

Yesterday he was one of 28 to whom chief of the navy Vice-Admiral Monde Lobese presented the Medal for Long Service and Good Conduct during a parade at the base to mark their having been in the force for 20 years.

With countering the Northern Mozambique insurgency among his navy memories, Captain Edwin Nyathi was among the recipients of a Medal for Long Service and Good Conduct at a parade on Salisbury Island. Picture: Shelley Kjonstad

Nyathi saw active service off Mozambique between July and December 2021, when two South African naval vessels and one from Tanzania ensured Islamist insurgents would not get supplies through a port they had taken in Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado province.

“My job was to co-ordinate and make sure the three vessels were gainfully deployed,” said Nyathi.

Members of the SA Navy on parade at the ceremony to present silver medals for Long Service and Good Conduct. Picture: Shelley Kjonstad

He was on land while the three vessels were strategically placed off the port of Mocimboa da Praia until Rwandan and Mozambican forces took back the town.

“At sea, there was no action as such but there was a lot of action on land,” the maritime component commander in the operation recalled.

Nyathi has specialised in surface warfare, fighting other ships, having first trained in mine counter-measures and captaining such vessels, including the SAS Umzimkulu.

Before that, in 2016, he had been commander of the task force in Operation Corona, a joint navy, air force, army, police and Department of Fisheries exercise, guarding borders taking a special interest in the maritime environment, including chasing away poachers.

In his present position with patrol vessels reporting to him, Nyathi is based more on land than at sea but nonetheless takes to the water about five days a month.

Living his dream has taken him far away from his roots.

“The first time I ever saw the sea was when I joined the navy. I had never been to the coast but I was excited and curious, not scared.”

He went on his first sea voyage while on midshipman training at the naval college in Gordon’s Bay, from Gqeberha (formerly Port Elizabeth) to Simon’s Town.

“It was an extremely satisfying experience. It hooked me. I knew that this is what I wanted to do.”

Nyathi said many of his colleagues who started out in the navy with him had moved on to civilian careers.

“At one stage I was also influenced to move on. I started to apply for jobs outside of the navy but after one or two interviews I decided to stay. The navy was for me.”

The Independent on Saturday

Source: https://www.iol.co.za/ios/news/honour-for-a-long-dream-career-9a73dce5-1fc6-4b3c-bd10-9b3b3acdb256