South Africa's First Black Female Captains
South Africa’s drive to develop its maritime industry has led to the successful qualification of the country’s first three black women as commercial cargo vessel captains: Tshepo Motloutsi, Thembela Taboshe and Pretty Molefe.
Two of the women, Motloutsi and Taboshe, are currently employed by the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) as ship surveyors in Durban, while the third, Molefe is with the National Ports Authority.
According to SAMSA, the womens’ achievement responds positively to a critical shortage of female master mariners not only in South Africa, but worldwide. In a statement congratulating the three, SAMSA said: “The journey to qualifying as a captain is a challenging one, more so for female candidates since this is a qualification that is traditionally held by males. The candidates have to endure over 36 months of sea time training before they sit down for the grueling oral examination.”
SAMSA Chief Operations Officer Sobantu Tilayi said the womens’ progress boded well for SAMSA’s efforts to completely transform the South African maritime sector for the benefit of all. “Not only will these two new captains put South Africa on the map, but they will go into the history books as the ladies who defied all odds in a male dominated space.”
The increase in qualified cargo vessels master mariners in South Africa comes at a time when the country is seeing an increase in the number of commercial cargo vessels being registered under the country’s flag, a registration process driven under mandate by SAMSA. The Cape Orchid, a Vuka Marine cargo vessel made history by becoming the first to be registered under the South African flag since 1985. Three vessels now carry the country’s flag, and an additional 12 applications are under consideration.