A bit about Stephan:
Stephanus Johannes Erasmus joined SAMVOA on the 22nd May, 2014.
As a Brigadier General, working out of Defence Head Quarters in Pretoria, he became well know to most of the Regiments he visited during the course of his duties.
Then living in Hamilton, New Zealand, we were delighted to have such a senior officer aboard, and he soon took over the running of SAMVOA New Zealand in a most efficient way and the organisation experienced excellent growth during his leadership.
Stephan, accompanied by his wife, Elizabeth, honoured the organisation by being our Guest of Honour at our National Formal Mess Dinner at the Glen Waverley RSL, In Melbourne, Australia on the 22nd October, 2016. where over 50 Members and Guests enjoyed his accounts, particularly during his period as a Military Attaché'. We had representatives from a number of Australian and Allied organisations, which included the National Boer War Memorial Association, Royal Air Forces Association, Royal Victorian Regimental Association, Waverley RSL, UNTAG, National Servicemen's Association of Australia NASHOS and the Reserve Forces Day Council of Victoria.
Retiring in New Zealand in 2011, Stephan and Elizabeth enjoy their life in Hamilton, after moving from Auckland 2 years previously. Despite the colder climate, they lived their lives at a slower pace than the hectic city rush of Auckland. Elizabeth is a keen gardener and Stephan kept himself busy with things SAMVOA and his other interests. They have 4 beautiful grandchildren and enjoyed the times when their children came over to visit, from Auckland and as far afield as Mauritius.
A wonderful life and brilliant career indeed. Sadly, Stephan passed away on the 22nd June, 2018. His funeral was well attended by SAMVOA Members.
A moving Eulogy, as presented by Veteran Warwick Hojem
Elizabeth, immediate family, other relatives, veterans present and in absentia, ladies and gentlemen...
I was asked by Ashley on Monday to deliver a eulogy and it was an honour and a privilege to accept this duty.
My acquaintance with Stephan goes back to about October 2014 when a friend of mine in Canada put me in touch with SAMVOA and I joined the organisation, warmly welcomed by Tony Macquet in Australia and a few days later by Stephan as the NZ Chairperson for the New Zealand branch of SAMVOA.
On ANZAC Day 2015. some friends of mine and I did the dawn service at Browns Bay and after the proceedings were over, we gravitated to the East Coast Bays RSA and at this venue, Chris Pattison(present here today) approached us and asked us to please proceed to the Auckland War Memorial Museum and join up with a squad of other South Africans who would march and lay a wreath at 11 am.
We were 15 on parade that day and we marched with pride and were seated along with other veterans as well as currently serving members of the NZ Armed Forces and participated in the proceedings of the day.
It was a moving ceremony and Stephan later sent out a newsletter with links to the SAMVOA website as well as informing all members as to who had gathered where and showed their respects to men and woman who had served before us.
Since then, I have met Stephan a number of times in person and he has been the NZ face of SAMVOA, so organised and very easy to approach, always ready with advice, never forceful and a true gentleman.
Knowing Stephan has made me also reassess my attitude towards anybody who served in the Permanent Force, as a National Serviceman and later, part of numerous citizen force units, there was always a measure of distrust for those in the permanent force and sadly, the behavior of some who served did little to change our attitudes toward them. As said, meeting Stephan changed all that for me . He was always soft-spoken yet reassuring, unassuming, yet a man who held a very senior rank and with more than 30 years of SADF experience, including 4 years as a military attaché in Taiwan.
Stephan has also always had a supportive wife and he once told me at one of our gettogethers about one of our SAMVOA veterans who was injured while in SADF service and spent a lengthy time at 1 Military Hospital at Voortrekkerhoogte and one of the nurses who looked after him was Nurse Elizabeth Erasmus. Many years later, Duncan Mattushek and Stephan both found themselves in New Zealand and they have been in regular contact.
I have tracked back to my original application and Tony Macquet stated the following therein when welcoming me as a member to SAMVOA –
“and feel free to participate as much as you would like or as you feel comfortable. We believe that we are all equal and our views are important”.
Stephan has since reiterated this same sentiment more than once and it is part of why there is a contingent of us here today.
In 2016, Stephan gave a talk, using PowerPoint as well as numerous laminated photos pinned to aboard about Delville Wood to an Australian audience and this year I “volunteered” to give an ANZAC Day talk at the Evelyn Page Retirement Village in Orewa and Stephan ensured that he brought up all the material he had used for his talk on one of his visits to family in Auckland and his props were most useful and I hopefully did justice to South Africa’s equivalent of Gallipoli.
I have printed off a few copies of Stephan’s CV as used by him for his talk in Australia in 2016. It is prefaced Vale and vale means farewell or goodbye!
I urge all of you to take a copy home, find a quiet place to read it and to reflect on this man of men!
Driving in to work this morning to put the finishing touches to this eulogy, “Brothers in Arms” was playing on the radio and within a few minutes, “Us and Them”. I get much inspiration from music and powerful lyrics and Googled both songs to see if I could borrow or adapt some of the lyrics, but, nothing quite worked. I also Googled a few military eulogies and same result.
I then thought about two Australian military themed songs, namely “Khe Sahn” and “I was only Nineteen” and the words from Khe Sahn stating “it is only other vets could understand” is what works and is emphasized by the contingent of SAMVOA members present here today and the letters of condolences received from veterans who couldn’t be here today.
Members of SAMVOINT and SAMVOA Australia have been so supportive of the proceedings here today and I have been asked to specifically convey the condolences of the entire formation to you, Elizabeth, and family.
In closing, Stephan, you were an officer and a gentleman and will be sorely missed by all whom you have touched.
Rest in peace, brother.
Sunday, 29 June2018, Auckland, NZ
Stephan served for 30 years in the SADF, pursuing a varied and highly successful military career. Stephan started off his career in 1962 as a recruit in the SA Army Gymnasium. After completing his training, he further pursued his military studies at the Military Academy in Saldanha Bay. He spent several years at the Armour Training Unit, where he was responsible for training mid- to senior- level officers. His next posting was as an Officer Instructor at the SA Army Staff College and then onward to SA Army Headquarters.
In 1977, Stephan was appointed as the Armed Forces Attaché to Taiwan and spent 4 years in this role, which was one of the highlights of his career. On his return, he built his career based on various communications (IT) roles he was appointed to at Army Headquarters and later at Defence Force Headquarters.
In 1992, he decided to take an early retirement and do something different by joining the Transvaal Provincial Administration (TPA).
Stephan was appointed as the Provincial Negotiation Co-Ordinator, tasked with facilitating, guiding and advising the local provincial negotiations process in preparation for the transition to the new government. It was an intense period and negotiations were fierce and complex. Later, as the Administrative Secretary to the Provincial Administrator, Stephan was a key role player, responsible for managing all personnel matters, budgeting and expenditure control. One of his core tasks was consolidation of the TPA office in preparation for the transformation to the new Government, which assumed its status after the general election on 27 April 1994.
Stephan had the arduous task, as Office Manager, of establishing this new public service office from scratch. For the first time, public transport had become a provincial responsibility and together with the Minister of Transport, Stephan became heavily involved in the resolution process pertaining to critical operational issues within the minibus taxi industry. His duties included mediation between opposing taxi associations, negotiations with various sectors of the public and continued media liaison.
After immigrating to New Zealand with his wife, Elizabeth and 3 children, Stephan was appointed as a civilian consultant to various portfolios within the Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN) and the Royal New Zealand Defence Force (RNZDF).
The Whenuapai Air Force Base constituted one of the primary domains of the RNZ Defence Force Wide Area Network (WAN), with Stephan being responsible for managing the critical support functions, including the Local Area Network (LAN) administration, help desk and technical support services, cabling network (including switches and hubs) and telephone PABX system
Stephan had the responsibility of ensuring 1st and 2nd line computer support for the entire RNZDF, including help desk support and training. He also managed the decentralised computer support teams across all RNZDF bases and HQs.
Stephan acted as chief liaison for computer support between the Navy and CIS Branch, reporting to the Chief Information Officer, RNZDF. He was also tasked with ensuring all naval officers were kept updated on CIS developments, including consultation and assistance with problem solving.