A case of murder is being investigated after the body of the commanding officer of the Waterkloof Airforce Base (AFB) was discovered last week in Garankuwa, north of Pretoria.
The body of Brigadier General Motlhokomedi Kenneth Petso was found in Garankuwa Extension 11 on June 4 and was positively identified by a family member.
Gauteng police spokesperson Brigadier Mathapelo Peters told News24 that Petso had been reported as missing at the Lyttleton police station prior to the grim discovery.
While an autopsy will be conducted to ascertain the cause of death, Peters said they are not ruling out the possibility that the senior ranking military official may have been murdered elsewhere and his body dumped in Garankuwa.
“To this end, a case of murder has been opened for investigation by the Provincial Investigating Unit,” Peters said.
Peters added that a white Jeep Cherokee (registration DH82MM-GP) registered to Petso is still missing, but that the vehicle’s tracking device was recovered by police in Brits, North West.
“Police are appealing to members of the public who may have information of the circumstances leading up to the disappearance and death of the senior officer, to report to the police.”
According to a statement by the ministry of defence last week, military police are working alongside the South African Police Service on solving Petso’s murder.
Minister of Defence and Military Veterans Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula sent her condolences to the Petso family and relatives, members of Air Force Base Waterkloof, colleagues and the air force community.
Petso’s military career started when he joined the former Bophuthatswana Defence Force on March 13, 1987 and qualified as a pilot on a Pilatus aircraft (PC-7 Mk1) in 1993. He integrated into the South African Air Force (SAAF) in 1994 as a second Lieutenant and posted to 42 Squadron to fly the Cessna 185, the South African Defence Force (SANDF) said in a statement.
Petso was then promoted to Lieutenant in 1995 and was posted to 41 Squadron in 1997 to fly the Cessna 208 (C-208) and Pilatus aircraft (PC-12). He was promoted again to the rank of Captain in 1998.
After being selected for a pilot instructor’s course in 2000 and completing his instructor’s tour in Central Flying School (CFS), Petso was transferred to Langebaanweg Air Force Base in 2003. That same year he was promoted to the rank of Major.
In 2007 he was appointed as the Officer Commanding 41 Squadron and promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. In 2008, he completed his Senior Staff course in the US at the Air War College in Montgomery Air Force Base stationed in Alabama.
In 2010, after a stint at SAAF HQ as acting senior staff officer operations at Directorate Air Transport and Maritime Systems, he was appointed as the commanding officer at Langebaanweg AFB.
In 2015, he was promoted to the rank of Brigadier General and appointed as Officer Commanding Waterkloof AFB.