First black female helicopter commander from Hammanskraal

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The 34 year old Zanele Vayeke-Shabangu becomes an inspiration to young girls in Hammanskraal

Hammanskraal has a reason to be proud for producing 34 years old Zanele Vayeke-Shabangu, who became the first black female helicopter commander in 2014.

Born and bred in Hammanskraal Temba, she matriculated from Ratshepo High School in 2001 and went on to study at Stellenbosch University through the military at Saldanha, in the Western Cape.

“I became the first black female to command the Agusta A109 helicopter and then moved to command the Oryx helicopter as the first black female in 2017 June.

She joined the Air force in 2004 and qualified as a pilot in 2007 and after doing the helicopter conversion, she became a co-pilot in 2008.

Ms Vayeke-Shabangu said she feels honored to be recognized as the first black female commander.

“It has taken 20 years to see progress in recognizing women in this field and I see my achievement as paving the way for other young women, giving up has never been an option,” she said.

She encouraged young women to go after what they believe they deserve and never to compromise standards to go after what they want.

“Yes as woman we have to prove ourselves twice as much that we are capable, it is through hard work and determination that we will achieve our goals,” said Ms Vayeke-Shabangu.