South Africa

SA Military embraces diversity as women of color rise to leadership roles

South Africa: The military culture is constantly changing, and women of colour have been filling leadership positions they did not fill before. To quote former Minister of Defence and Military Veterans Mrs Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, “I take pride in seeing more women swelling the ranks of the South African National Defence Force and being available to serve our nation.”

Lieutenant Ntombikayise Prudence Temba is in the South African Air Force, and she is well known as the only female recipient who received three trophies at the Commissioning Parade which was held on 01 December 2022 at the South African Air Force College.

With the commemoration of Human Rights Day, Ad Astra Magazine asked the Lieutenant what the day meant to her, “It means equality, being able to enjoy the fruits of democracy that were fought for by the people who lost their lives in 1961 due to the Sharpeville Massacre; women in the military being fairly afforded the opportunities to spear-head leadership roles in this predominately male environment,” she said.

She was born on 23 July 1986 and grew up in a township called Elukwatini, Mbombela, in the Mpumalanga Province. She comes from a small family of both her parents, who are still alive and two siblings; her family then moved to Matsulu, where she attended school; she completed high school in 2003 at Masitakhe Secondary School. This South African Air Force female soldier came out as a top matriculant candidate.

Furthermore, after matric, she enrolled at the University of Limpopo at Turfloop to study Bcom in Accounting, but unfortunately, she was not able to complete her studies due to financial exclusion and had to return home. “As much as there were financial difficulties in my family, God always carried us through,” she declared.

Her life changed for the better when she was accepted by the SA Air Force on 09 January 2008. Lieutenant Temba proved to have a promising career. After completing the Basic Military Training in April 2008, she then worked as a Human Resources Clerk at the Air Force Base Waterkloof, Human Resource office at the Duty Room. From 2015 to 2016, she was bestowed with her Sergeant’s rank and thereafter worked as a Career Manager at the Directorate Technical Support Services, where she was responsible for dealing with career-related queries of Aviation Technical members.

She further worked at 5 Air Servicing Unit Office at a Human Resource desk. Her historic career highlight came in December 2022 after completing the Officers Forming training at the SA Air Force College, where she was conferred with the Lieutenant rank.

Currently, Lieutenant Temba is the Staff Officer 3 Human Resource Budget & Planning trainee and is registered for a diploma in Human Resources at Stadio Higher Education Tertiary.

Lieutenant Temba is a modern-day career-driven woman and a mother. She is setting an example that it is possible to have a career while maintaining a household and serving the country as a soldier.

She chose her mustering because of her “Passion and patience for working with people; the job comes with a huge responsibility, and that is where I come in, that is where I excel, the members can count on me to ensure they have no salary deductions. All their applications are handled swiftly, whether they were clearing in or they are at the end of their career paths. I ensure that their pension documents are made a first priority; it is quite important to have confidence in the Human Resources people as they handle most important documents,” she said.

Lieutenant Temba spoke highly about how relying on the word of God and reading spiritual books for guidance has moulded her into the person she is in the working environment and outside the office. She declared that “self-control is what guides my conscience every day. As much as discipline can be instilled in a soldier, self-discipline can not; it is personal and it is what guides you whether in or out of the military uniform,” she said.

To keep her mind active, she reads; she takes pleasure in numerous books. She is currently reading the Law of Confession by the American preacher and author Dr Bill Winston. “This book makes me take note of the power of my tongue and the impact of the words I speak upon my own life situations and that of others and that the words we speak should be aligned to what God says”, said Lieutenant Temba.

In the SA National Defence Force, she takes inspiration from female Officer Commanding/Directors rising in all the Arms of services, and she hopes that one day in the near future, SA Air Force will have a female Chief.

Lieutenant Temba said Major Nozipho Mbense, whom she once worked with at the Air Force Base Waterkloof, inspires her to be the better version of herself in the office. Outside the office, she looks up to her partner, who is business oriented.

In the next five years, Lieutenant Temba sees herself running her own successful Human Resource office with Human Resource clerks under her so that she can share the love and passion she has for her career and transfer the knowledge to those coming after her. She strongly believes that it is possible, the word of God that encourages her is LUKE 1:37 “For the word of God will never fail.”

Lieutenant Temba has done a few courses to enhance her career:

• Basic Military Training
• Senior Pers Clerk
• NCOs’S Forming
• Officers Forming

Amelia Jones

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