Remembering Len le Roux

download (6)03 September 2013

ACCRA, Ghana – It is with immense sadness that the African Security Sector (ASSN) received news of the passing last weekend of one of its founding members, Len le Roux.

Len was a retired Major General of the South Africa National Defence Force. In the years after his retirement from active service, he joined the Institute of Security Studies (ISS) in 2003 as head of the Defence Sector Programme. He was also a lecturer and an independent consultant, working from time to time for the ASSN and various other organisations involved in Africa’s Security Sector Reform (SSR) discourse.

Back in his home country, South Africa, he was involved in the defence transformation process from 1995 to 2000, following the country’s 1994 transition to democratic rule. He will particularly be remembered for his involvement in the development of South Africa’s 1996 Defence White Paper and the 1998 Defence Review. Even in retirement, he remained an invaluable SSR resource person, as evidenced by his highly erudite analysis of the 2012 Defence Review in the July 2012 edition of the ASSN Quarterly newsletter (pages 6-7).

His last assignment for the ASSN were two trips to Burundi in June and September of 2012 to help develop and evaluate various strategic options for Burundi’s defence policy. At the time of his sudden death, Len and his ASSN colleague, Eboe Hutchful, were discussing a joint trip to South Sudan, to advise the UK-funded Security and Defence Transformation Programme (SDTP) on comparative defence budgeting in Africa, at a meeting scheduled for Juba this September.

As the entire ASSN membership, executive committee and staff join together in mourning Len’s passing, we also celebrate his work and salute him for his life of dedicated service as an African soldier, teacher and scholar. We also remember him for his friendship, and for his contribution – as an eminent authority in the field of African security – to the continent’s long time quest for sustainable peace and security.

We send our deepest condolences to his family, friends and colleagues.

Please share your memories to celebrate our departed colleague by emailing



I have just received the news about Len Le Roux’s sad demise on returning from holiday. I wholeheartedly endorse ASSN’s moving tribute. Len was a very good friend and colleague and I’ll personally much miss his good comradeship, wry sense of humour and wise advice. He demonstrated considerable courage in working from within the South African security and defence establishment to forge links with his counterparts in the African National Congress (ANC) and Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK) and to achieve a smooth transition from the apartheid era to democratic civil-military relations in the new South Africa. He was a true military intellectual and at the same time had real empathy for ordinary people failed or ignored by existing security arrangements in South Africa and elsewhere in the continent.

He was one of the moving spirits behind the creation of the ASSN and played an active role in it right up until the time of his death. He was also actively engaged in the former Global Facilitation Network for Security Sector Reform (GFN-SSR) and former Global Consortium on Security Transformation (GCST). He had a very wise head on his shoulders and could always be counted on for good advice and often counterintuitive insights. He was unflappable, had a great capacity for empathy and a marvellous ability to suggest creative compromises when fractious colleagues were in dispute. In sum he was a truly wonderful human being.

My thoughts are with his family who must miss him terribly.

Robin Luckham


These are really distressing news! Len was one of the kindest and most gentle ASSN members, and always had a word of encouragement and support for the work of younger colleagues.  This is a true loss for the ASSN in all senses… He will undoubtedly continue to live in our hearts and memories.

Anícia Lalá


Extremely sad news…I have many fond memories of working with Len over the last 15 years or so and will miss him greatly.

Nicole Ball


It was with great sadness that I heard the sad news of the transition of General Len Le Roux whom I knew and worked with closely. Deep condolences to his family.

General Paulino Macaringue


This is indeed shocking news. Len was remarkably professional, an excellent team member with all the camaraderie that comes with a first class human being. His passing is certainly a huge loss for the ASSN. But I feel sure that his contributions will be cherished.

‘Funmi Olonisakin


What a tragedy for his family, friends and all who knew him. And what a sterling contribution he made, both to the South African transition and across the African continent. It’s hard to accept we will never experience his chirpy, positive manner again.

Sandy Africa


This is totally unbelievable…truly, truly tragic. Len was truly committed to the ASSN and was one of our best assets.

Eboe Hutchful

I worked with Len at the inception of the Defence Sector Programme(DSP) at the Institute for Security Studies (ISS)  and subsequently took over the leadership of the programme from him. This is a terrible loss.

Professor Naison Ngoma,
Vice Chancellor, Copperbelt University
Kitwe, Zambia


This comes as a shock. Len was always so sprightly and a role model for how to remain active in ‘retirement’… he will be sorely missed.

Gavin Cawthra


I am very shocked by these horrible news. In Gavin’s words, Len was a gentleman and a scholar and will be a great loss to Africa and the ASSN.

Professor Paul Jackson
University of Birmingham, UK


I am truly saddened by this news. I had worked closely with Len at the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) for many years. He was a humble and gentle man. A man of integrity. A wise man. I learned a lot from him. He had looked forward to retiring and spending time with his wife. How short that turned out to be. Rest in peace Len!

Cheryl Hendricks


I had the pleasure of working with Len at the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) and under his guidance I got engaged in the field of SSR in Africa. He was my mentor and one of the most generous and supportive people to work with. My thoughts and prayers are with his wife and family.

Lauren Hutton
Netherlands Institute of International Relations ‘Clingendael’


It is with great sadness and acceptance of God’s decision that I learnt of Len’s death. I first met Len in July 2002 when he came to Kampala when we were just at the initial steps of the Uganda Defence Review (UDR) exercise that lasted for two years. The July workshop, codenamed ‘South to South,’ was to share experiences of other developing/African countries that had done a defence review before. His words of wisdom and encouragement including warning us in advance of the likely pitfalls on the way helped us to conduct a successful comprehensive defence review.  Had he advised that it was an impossible mission, I think probably we would have abandoned the task altogether. His most profound contribution  to the UDR process came in (about a year later) at the stage of developing and evaluating the strategic force options. He is remembered particularly for the  recommendation that Uganda needed an Air Force Service rather than having Airforce as a directorate under the army.  He was a retired Airforce general, talking from a vantage point backed by years of experience as a pilot and an air force commander.  Who were we not to listen!? Thanks to his expertise and ready to share the knowledge attitude, Uganda now has a fully-fledged Air Force Service. For the two years he made numerous trips between South Africa and Uganda in support of the Uganda defence review exercise. We can never thank him enough.

My condolences to his family and entire ASSN family. May his soul RIP.

Jason Kyeyune  Nyombi
Ministry of Defence, Uganda.


Rest in peace Len – I will remember you with much respect for your professionalism and immense contributions to SSR on the continent.

Dylan Hendrickson


Though we came in contact only briefly and so long ago, Len struck me as a true gentleman and scholar.  Heartfelt condolences to his family, to our South African friends, and to the entire ASSN family.

Boubacar N’Diaye


I just received the sad news of the demise of this dear and dedicated African scholar whose contribution to African security will always be remembered.

Osman Gbla,
Centre for Development and Security Analysis ( CEDSA), Sierra Leone


What a sad loss to both Len’s family and the ASSN in general. A well resourced person on SSR in Africa who was always ready and willing to share his personal experiences with others, all in the promotion of good governance in Africa. May his soul rest in perfect peace.  Len, sleep on as we celebrate your contribution to peace.

Al-Hassan Kondeh


I did not know him well but from what I read of him, no doubt he was indeed an asset. I pray the Almighty God to condole his family for this loss. Life they say is like a vapour… All our works and time count…

Uju Agomoh


Really sad news…may his soul rest in peace.

Elom Khaunbiow


It is really shocking to learn this sad news. My condolences to his family and close friends.

Medhane Tadesse


In echo of [the ASSN’s] sympathies regarding my good friend Len.

Roland De Vries


I have seen a report on the Internet suggesting that Len has just passed away. If true, this is a terrible loss to Africa.

Jeremy Astill-Brown


Please accept my deepest condolences for the unfortunate lost of our colleague. May his soul rest in eternal peace.

Tongyik Ter Majok


I join the entire ASSN family in mourning our colleague Len Le Roux. Although I did not get the opportunity to meet him, I have realised that he was an asset to his Country, our organisation and the world! I pray that his family is comforted in the hope that they will meet again one day.

Naome Kibaaju,


I am very saddend by these news.  My thoughts and prayers are with his family.

Axel Augé


My condolences, and greetings from Nairobi.

Napoleon Abdulai