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Major General Keith Mokoape

The Order of Luthuli in

Major General Keith Mokoape Awarded for:
His excellent contribution to the liberation movement. His service to the country from exile to democracy has been invaluable and remains his legacy.
Profile of Major General Keith Mokoape

Major General Keith Mokoape was born in Wallmansthal, north of Pretoria, in 1947. He studied for the Bachelor of Science degree in Botany and Zoology at the then University of the North (now called University of Limpopo). In 1971, he enrolled for an M.B.Ch.B degree with the Medical Faculty of the University of Natal.

He joined the African National Congress (ANC) and its military wing Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK). From a foot soldier Mokoape rose to become Deputy Chief of Military Intelligence in 1988, deputising Mr Ronnie Kasrils, and in 1989, Chief of Military Intelligence of MK. He worked closely with the late Mr Chris Hani (then Chief of Staff), and the late Mr Joe Modise.

Mokoape qualified as a detachment (battalion) commander at the Simferopol Military School in the Crimea, Ukraine, USSR, and travelled to the former Soviet Union and Cuba on missions of the ANC and MK. Between 1975 and 1986, he operated as a front commander in Botswana, Mozambique, Swaziland and Mozambique.

In 1987, based in Lusaka, Zambia, he acted as MK’s Chief of Staff pending the arrival of Hani from Lesotho. In 1988, in a six-man unit led by the late Lt Gen Lennox Tshali, Mokoape was deployed alongside the guerillas of the Polisario Front in Morocco-occupied Western Sahara. They brought back tactics of the Polisario Front which were used, among other attacks, to successfully attack the Slurry Military Base, in the former Bophuthatswana.

When political changes were ushered in the early 90s, Mokoape noted the plight of MK members who may not make it in a future defence force, and opted for development studies.

He qualified in the Management of Cooperatives at the Co-operative College, Lusaka, Zambia, and in the Management of Rural Development Projects at the Pan-African Institute for Development (East and Southern Africa in Kabwe, Zambia. In 1990, he attended a course on ‘The Post-Apartheid Economy’ at the London Business School and demobilised in 1994.