South Africa’s  Zimasa Mabela

South Africa’s Zimasa Mabela becomes first African woman to command a navy vessel

This South African woman is making waves.

South Africa’s  Zimasa Mabela

Lieutenant Commander Zimasa Mabela made history on Wednesday when she became the first African woman to command a navy vessel.

She took charge of the SAS Umhloti replacing officer in charge, Commander Brian Shor.



Born and raised in the Eastern Cape, Mabela joined the navy back in 1999 as a telecommunications radio official. By 2004, she had completed her Military Training for Officers course in Gordon’s Bay and then the Combat Officer qualifying course at the navy’s maritime warfare training centre.

She continued to work her way up and on Wednesday, she broke new ground in the navy. She said that she she hopes to be judged on her ability to command and not her gender.