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SA gets first black female naval combat commander

Pushing boundaries, a South African mother of two becomes the continent’s first black female naval combat commander



The naval glass ceiling is being shattered. Lieutenant Commander Zimasa Mabela has made history taking over as captain of a combat class vessel in South Africa’s Navy. Lieutenant Commander Mabela replaces Captain Brian Short who served two years on the ship, SAS Umhloti.

The mother of two couldn’t hide her happiness saying, “I’m excited, I’m happy…and looking forward to the command.”

Despite the motherhood challenges, looking after her two girls and balancing her studies, she says it has all “been worth it”.


Lieutenant Commander Zimasa Mabela. Photo: DefenceWeb

In an interview at a ceremony to celebrate Lieutenant Commander Mabela’s achievement, Captain Short said “she’s earned her stripes…literally. She’s come up through the ranks”.

“She has worked hard, not everybody can get to be an officer commanding. She’s proven that a woman can have as much of a chance as a man and it should give hope to the ladies coming up through the ranks. That command is not just a male dominated field, that anybody who works hard, that strives for it can earn it”.


The vessel Lieutenant Commander Mabela will command is currently used for training new recruits and for rescue operations.

Source: EWN