Zungu and her female peers are not put off by working in a male-dominated industry.
She is one of the first three women in Africa to obtain a marine pilot open licence.
She encourages other women to pursue careers in the maritime sector.
“There is still plenty of room for women. I would like to see more female captains, marine pilots, marine engineers, helicopter pilots and the like,” she says.
During her time with Unicorn shipping Zungu experienced first-hand that hers is a male-dominated field.
She spent the first eight months on a bulk carrier as the only woman in a crew of 28 Russian men. “The only person who could speak a little bit of English was the captain.
“It’s a tough environment for women. On board you have to have the physical and mental strength to perform the role.
Only when you’re on land you can put on your skirt and heels and be a lady again,” Women making their mark says Zungu. She returned to Transnet and started training as a tugboat master.
She went back to Samsa for the master port operations ticket, which she obtained in 2006. Zungu became a qualified tugboat master in 2006.
A tugboat master manoeuvres ships in and out of the port with the help of small tugboats.
In 2007 Zungu was nominated for the pilot training
programme at the Marine School of Excellence in Rotterdam in the Netherlands.
“I only obtained my first pilot license in 2009, which was to handle ships that are up to 1 200 gross tonnage. I obtained my open license in 2011. That allowed me to handle ships of any size.”
Zungu, Precious Dube and Bongiwe Mbambo were the first three black women in Africa to obtain a Marine Pilot open licence in 2011.
The three colleagues were among the TNPA’s earliest development candidates. Going big In 2011, Women making their mark
Zungu made the news again when she guided the giant MSC Chicago vessel, on its maiden voyage to Pinky Zungu is Transnet National Ports Authority’s first black female Deputy Harbour Master – Nautical for the Port of Durban.
South Africa, into the Port of Durban during a two-hour effort. At the time the ship was touted as the largest vessel ever to dock in South Africa.
This came soon after the entrance channel had been widened to accommodate a new generation of container ships.
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