Final farewell for fallen submariners

Members of the Nelson Mandela Artillery Pipes & Drums perform during the memorial service at Jubilee Square last Friday for the three dead submariners.

South African Navy members and Simon’s Town residents paid their final respects to the three submariners who died in rough seas off Kommetjie last month.

Lieutenant Commander Gillian Hector (executive officer), Master Warrant Officer William Masela Mathipa (coxswain) and Warrant Officer Class One Mmokwapa Lucas Mojela (coxswain under training) died on Wednesday September 20 during a navy exercise involving the submarine SAS Manthatisi (“Three SA Navy officers dead after being swept out to sea,” Echo September 21).

The sound of bagpipes from the Nelson Mandela Artillery Pipes & Drums filled Jubilee Square as locals gathered at 3.30pm for the service organised by the Simon’s Town Civic Association and

Civic Association chairman Simon Metcalfe expressed the association’s condolences to the families of the three submariners.

Reverend Errol Sadler led the service and said the tragedy had left an emptiness in three homes.

“There is a definite lesson for us to learn during these sorrowful and lonely days. The lesson is to begin to learn not to be surprised by surprises or the suddenness of the unexpected. Life and death are mysterious and therefore, full of surprises,” he said.

The South African flag was lowered to half mast during the playing of The Last Post, and the service ended with two minutes of silence.

Reverend Errol Sadler led the memorial service, which was attended by SA Navy members, from left, Lieutenant Henjo Burger, Captain Sebake Nokwane, Captain Vusi Matlhangu, Captain Neville Howel and Captain Sello Malepe.
Able Seaman Takalani Madau lowers the South African flag during playing of The Last Post.