Mantoa leads the way
Paratrooper Mantoa Leburu's dreams have come true.
It has also been a historic moment for the Phase 2 military base at De Brug training camp in Bloemfontein to have the first woman soldier parachute from an airplane.
The South African Army's Young Eagles exercise open day on Friday was aimed at training and exercising airborne units, to enhance capability and combat readiness.
Leburu was chosen out of hundreds of trainees for the extensive year-long parachute training. She qualified after a selection process that took 14 weeks.
Brigadier-General Sipho Msi, who headed the exercise, said they saw great potential in Leburu.
"There is something special about her. We knew that she would crack it and finish the exercise with ease," said Msi.
He said Leburu had opened doors for other young women , but warned that they must know it required hard work and dedication.
Leburu said: "It was a huge challenge. Before I jumped I was scared and nervous at the same time. Many questions came to my mind.
"Before I jumped, I went to a little corner and said a short prayer, and everything went according to plan."
More than 1500 soldiers gathered at De Brug since November 5 with the objective of successfully integrating all airborne and supporting units.
Army chief Lieutenant-General Solly Shoke said he was impressed with Leburu's achievements and the overall success of the exercise.
"This means we are on the right track. It makes me happy to see that women are taking their place in the army," he said.
He was confident more women would participate in the programme.