From the military to the national carrier: SAA’s first black African wOᴍᴀɴ captain


Cape Town – Two black African women who as youngsters dreamed of the impossibly impossible have proven that dreams can come true by becoming the first black female flight deck crew to fly a SAA flight in 2022, making Sᴏᴜᴛʜ Aғʀɪᴄᴀn aviation history.

On Tuesday morning, Captain Annabel Vundla and First Officer Refilwe Moreetsi, both former members of the Sᴏᴜᴛʜ Aғʀɪᴄᴀn Air Force (SAAF), flew their aircraft from the City of Gold and touched down in the Mother City to cheers and an on-the-spot picture shoot with delighted passengers.

Kgaogelo Mahasha, SAA’s only female aircraft maintenance engineer, joined the two high-fliers on the ground at Cape Town International Airport. But what made the accomplishment all the sweeter for the three was that they had all achieved their positions solely on merit and not as a result of affirmative action.

Vundla, a married mother of two who has been flying for 22 years and is still enrolled in the SAAF as a military reservist with the presidential squadron, spent 12 years flying VIPs there.

She admitted that she had always wished she could fly but didn’t believe it would ever be possible. However, when she was a high school student back in Mafikeng, recruiters from the air force came to her school.

Moreetsi has worked in the field for 15 years. Prior to starting her job at SAA 14 years ago, she spent time flying Oryx heliᴄᴏᴘters in the air force before transitioning to passenger planes at SA Express.

Since she is the only wOᴍᴀɴ in her sector at CTIA, Mahasha has been working in the industry for seven years. She received her training at Denel and SA Express before joining the company.

Mpho Letlape, executive director of huᴍᴀɴ resources at SAA, said: “Sᴏᴜᴛʜ Aғʀɪᴄᴀns can be proud of a national airline that really reflects our diversity, and we celebrate that.

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Video resource: Eyewitness News

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