Parliament congratulates South Africa’s first three black women Master Mariners

Pretoria: 23 May 2017

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.

Transport Minister, Joe Masangwanyi (2)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.

In the video below, Mr Maswangwayi makes his remarks about the three pioneers from 19:38 minutes to 20:30 minutes.

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.

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South Africa’s first black female Ship Captains set to conquer the oceans globally

Three young black South African women blaze the trail in the country’s maritime transport subsector after qualifying as Marine Masters

Pretoria: 06 May 2016

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South Africa’s purposeful drive to transform positively the country’s maritime sector primarily through development widely yet rapidly of a formidable base of human resource skills is yielding significant results.

Latest evidence of this trend is to be found in the successful qualification recently of the country’s first three black women as commercial cargo vessel Master Mariners or Ship Captains.

TRAILBLAZER: South Africa maritime transport subsector pioneer, Captain Tshepo Motloutsi, the first of three black women in the country to qualify as a ship captain, or Master Marine in 2016
TRAILBLAZER: South Africa maritime transport subsector pioneer, Captain Tshepo Motloutsi, the first of three black women in the country to qualify as a ship captain, or Master Marine in 2016

The uniquely historical event occurred after Tshepo Motloutsi, Thembela Taboshe and Pretty Molefe received their colours as Master Mariners in March and April 2016 respectively following to their passing their exams.

The three newest Captains will go into the history books as the first black female Master Mariners in South Africa.

A Master Mariner or Ship Captain is the professional qualification required for someone to serve as the person in charge or person in command of a vessel of more than 3000 gross tons.

Two of the new female Captains Motloutsi and Taboshe are currently employed by the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) as ship surveyors in Durban, while the third; Captain Molefe is with the National Ports Authority.

According to SAMSA – hitherto the country’s leading agent for human resources skills development in the sector since some 16 years ago – the youthful females’ achievement is significant not only for its historical perspective, but crucially because its advancement to the highest level of their career paths responds positively to a critical shortage of female master mariners or ship captains not only in South Africa, but also worldwide.

In a statement congratulating the three, SAMSA said it was extremely proud of Captain Motloutsi, Taboshe and Molefe’s formidable achievement as, it 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.”

South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) Chief Operating Officer, Mr Sobantu Tilayi
South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) Chief Operating Officer, Mr Sobantu Tilayi

SAMSA Chief Operations Officer Mr Sobantu Tilayi said the ladies’ progress boded well for SAMSA’s efforts to completely transform the South African maritime sector for the benefit of all.

“We are excited about these two qualifications as they are not only historical but are also in line with the country’s push towards a fully beneficial and representative South African maritime sector. 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”, said Tilayi.

Meanwhile, the increase in qualified cargo vessels master mariners in South Africa comes at a time when the country is also 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 that has made history by becoming the first to be registered under the South African flag since 1985. It is the first of two expected to lead in the campaign by the SA government, assisted by SAMSA to have as many trade vessels as possible registered in the country.
The Cape Orchid, a Vuka Marine cargo vessel that has made history by becoming the first to be registered under the South African flag since 1985. It is the first of two expected to lead in the campaign by the SA government, assisted by SAMSA to have as many trade vessels as possible registered in the country.

Already three vessels carry the country’s flag since August 2015 while an additional 12 is currently having their applications under consideration.

The increase in South Africa registered commercial cargo vessels is a strategic move to expand both training opportunities for the country cadets as well as business trade opportunities.

According to SAMSA, Captains Taboshe, and Motloutsi will remain in SAMSA’s employment while their future in the maritime sector is receiving further consideration.

For a full feature on Captain Tshepo Motloutsi’s and Captain Thembela Taboshe’s journey into South Africa’s maritime transport sector history, after qualifying as the country’s first batch of Black female Master Mariners, please click here.