The glass ceiling in the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) has been metaphorically blown away with the appointment of a woman as commander of the only tank regiment in the force.
Lieutenant Colonel Phumzile Shingange this month took over command of the Bloemfontein-based unit – one of eight various armoured units operating everything from Ratels to Rooikats – which make up the SA Army Armour Formation along with the School of Armour also based in the Free State capital.
The first woman to command a unit integral to, among others, the crux of credible deterrent via firepower, manoeuvre and shock effect in the landward force has been an armour soldier since 1998 when she became part of the then SA Armoured Corps. This was her second posting following an initial period at the SA Army Women’s College in George.
In 1999 she was a troop commander at 1 Tank Regiment followed by stints as support troop commander at the School of Armour, troop commander at the SA Army Gymnasium in Heidelberg and then promotion to the rank of captain saw her move to the Military Academy in Saldanha as an instructor. While at the Academy she enrolled as a part-time student and started studying in 2005.
December 2007 saw her transferred back to Bloemfontein and 1 Tank where she was firstly combat ready officer, followed by training officer and squadron commander. Her posting as squadron commander coincided with promotion to the rank of major.
In 2011 she was transferred to the School of Armour and promoted to lieutenant colonel and occupied the posts of simulator centre commander and armour training wing commander respectively until her transfer back to 1 Tank as Officer Commanding.
Shingange has a BMil in human and organisational development, among her academic credit and is currently busy wither her Masters in industrial psychology.