The SA Navy’s SAS Umhloti has a new commander. The press has reported that Lieutenant-Commander Zimasa Mabela took command of the mine counter measures vessel in Simon’s Town this week and is the first black African woman to command a navy vessel.
Commander Brian Short, former commander of the vessel handed over command to Mabela in a ceremony also held in Simon’s Town this week.
Mabela was born in the Eastern Cape and joined the navy in 1999. In 2004 she completed the Military Training for Officers, followed by the Combat Officer qualifying course and she joined the SAS Isandwana in 2005.
“I remember how excited I was when I first got accepted to be part of the navy. I am proud to be the first black African woman to command a naval vessel. But more than the title, I want to be an example to my crew. I want to be judged on my ability to command, and not my gender,” said Mabela.
The press has reported on another whale rescue mission which took place off Cape Point this week.
The SA Whale Disentanglement Network (SAWDN) was called to the scene and found that the whale has become entangled in four ropes apparently anchored to traps on the seabed.
After a long struggle the team, along with the assistance of the fishing vessel Puffin which came to assist, the whale was freed.
Mike Meyer, of the Department of Environmental Affairs said, “The whale appeared healthy and swam away strongly and we are confident that this operation has been a huge success.”
This is the third whale to be caught in octopus traps in False Bay.
Nan Rice, head of the Dolphin Action and Protection Group and a founder member of the SAWDN said, “We will have to sit down and talk about this. There are going to be more entanglements because there are more whales around, especially humpbacks, which breed every second year.”
It is estimated that an average of 308,000 whales and dolphins are killed each year when they become entangled in fishing gear or marine waste.