I doubt that you will have enough free time to continue your thesis during basics, although a lot has changed so it might be possible, just don't count on it.
I can't comment on the flying hours, it will be better for a pilot to comment on that one.
If your private work is not interfering with your daily work and you do not use state resources nobody is going to complain.
Life on Makhado is somewhat challenging, especially if you are used to a city's conveniences. Braambos is the residential area for AFB Makhado, about 8km from the base if you travel by road. The basic accommodation is available, single-living ins stay in the mess, lower ranks (airmen to corporals) share rooms, other ranks usually have their own rooms. Officers have better accommodation. If you are married/have a life partner you can get a house, ranging from simplex or duplex with 3 rooms to a house with 3 rooms and a study, each one has a garden. Despite rumors, water is available and fit for human consumption.
There are a number of sport facilities available, rugby, soccer, netball, tennis, bowls, jukskei(don't know the English word) even a RC flying club with a runway. There are talks of starting a paintball club, although that is probably going to take some time.
There is a shop in Braambos, suppose to provide basic necessities and fuel, although its a bit dicey at this stage. A health center is also available and can accommodate most emergencies. There is a daycare center and primary school, accommodating new borne up to grade 7.
Telkom only provides dial-up internet services, but there are two WISPs available, CRC Networks is even good enough for online gaming and have an uncapped option, however speed is rather slow and its expensive if you compare it to ADSL prices.
Town is between 20km or 40km by road, depending on which road you take and is rather small. The town also suffers from water end electricity problems which should be taken in consideration should you decide to stay in town. There is a bus service bringing SAAF personal to the base from town and taking the school children to schools in town. Polokwane is 100km from the base with one tollgate(nearest city with cinemas and so on), and Pretoria is about 400km with 5 tollgates.
Work for spouses are scarce, on the base and in town. There are not a lot of high paying jobs available in town.
Otherwise life on Braambos is peaceful and quiet, crime is small and petty, you will have more problems with the wild life than with criminals, warthogs can do a lot of damage to a garden and its always exciting when a puff adder decides to sail into the living room to see whats on TV (although it happened only once in the ten years I have stayed here, there are a lot of snakes and one should be careful, but generally the snakes leave the people alone).
The base is actually in a very good condition, especially when you look at other bases. Work on the base is pretty much what you make of it, you will face the same challenges and frustrations that is common in the SAAF everywhere. There are the usual good people who will go to lengths to help you and the bad who will step over you, but that is present in every community.
Feel free to ask if you need info on anything specific, I will try to provide.