South Africa’s first three black female Master Mariners (a.k.a ship Captains) received a warm welcome and applause at the country’s Parliament on Tuesday when they were introduced to lawmakers for the first time by the Minister of Transport, Joe Masangwanyi.
Mr Masangwanyi introduced the trio to Parliament during his maiden speech as Transport Minister in which delivered the ministry’s budget for the 2017/2018 financial year.
In his speech during which he also announced an allocation of about R119-million for maritime, Mr Masangwanyi described the Master Mariner qualification obtained by Captains Thembela Taboshe, Captain Tsepo Motloutsi and Captain Pretty Molefe in 2016 as the highest qualification for seafarers, and which enables them to command vessels of up to 3000 tons worldwide.
The three ship captains who made history by being the first black African females to do so, are currently working as ship surveyors for the South African Maritime Safety (SAMSA) at the port of Durban while furthering their academic studies in maritime law.
Meanwhile, a number of SAMSA projects came under the spotlight during the debate including the establishment a year ago of ships bunkering services at the port of Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape, some aspects of its involvement in cadet training as well as its social responsibility contributions to communities impacted by maritime activities, among them the community of Enkovekuni at uMhlabauyalingana in KwaZulu-Natal, as well as projects earmarked for the Port St Johns community in the current year.