The South African Police Service (SAPS) is celebrating brave women in its male-dominated environments, such as Sergeant Zoliswa Kabini.
The thirty-four-year-old member has 12 years’ service, having joined the police in 2009.
Originally from Umzimkhulu in Kwa-Zulu Natal, Sergeant Kabini is an Airborne Law Enforcement Officer (ALEO) attached to the Johannesburg Airwing Unit.
Sergeant Kabini, who has a BA degree in policing, is one of 10 female ALEO in the SAPS.
As an ALEO, she provides air support using an aircraft to conduct and assist operations.
These operations range from routine patrols to search and rescue operations, to support operations for high-risk units.
The high-risk police units include the Special Task Force, National Intervention Unit, Tactical Response Teams, Public Order Police and the Counter Assault Team.
Sergeant Kabini and her colleagues also provide operational support during public unrest and crowd control operations.
They also assist in operations tackling vehicle, stock, and game theft.
Sergeant Kabini and her colleagues mainly focus on tracking and tracing suspects in high-risk incidents such as cash-in-transit heists, armed robberies, hijackings, and other violent crimes.
Apart from providing air support to specialised teams on the ground, Sergeant Kabini and her colleagues can also assist pilots with observations and the reading of aerial maps.
In that regard, the ALEO is an extra set of eyes and ears for the pilot.
During “confined space landings”, hoisting and long-line slinging operations, it is the duty and responsibility of the ALEO to “patter” the pilot to ensure a safe and successful operation.
To qualify as an ALEO, a member needs to have at least three years of experience in an operational environment.
Following a rigorous selection process, successful applicants undergo training that is specific to Airborne Law Enforcement Officers.
Sergeant Kabini says to survive in this environment, one ought to be “brave, calm, and decisive”.
She says these traits are important “for one’s situational awareness to be up to standard”.
Sergeant Kabini adds that one must be able to exercise authority, especially when communicating with operational members on the ground.
She says you have to know what to say, know what to do, how to do it, and when.
“I love everything about my work. I don’t get intimidated by my male counterparts because everything they do I can equally execute,” boasts Sergeant Kabini.
“I would like to take this opportunity to encourage more women, especially young females to join the service and play their part in making South Africa a safer place”.
SAPS said: “To Sergeant Kabini and other female Airborne Law Enforcement Officers we salute you for stamping your authority in this male-dominated environment.
“We also say thank you for putting your country first.”