By Jonk wa Mashamba
In celebration of women’s month, the South African Police Service (SAPS) celebrates its women who continually break barriers in a male dominated environment.
Sergeant Zoliswa Kabini (34) has 12 years’ service having joined the organisation in 2009 when she was only twenty-two-years-old.
Originally from Umzimkhulu in Kwa-Zulu Natal, Sergeant Kabini is an Airborne Law Enforcement Officer (ALEO) attached to the Johannesburg Airwing Unit.
She is in possession of a BA degree in Policing and is one of 10 female Air force Law Enforcement Officers (ALEO) in the organisation.
As an Airborne Law Enforcement Officer (ALEO), the operational member provides air support utilising an aircraft to conduct and assist operations.
“I love everything about my work. I don’t get intimidated by my male counterparts because everything they do, I can equally execute.
“I would like to take this opportunity to encourage more women, especially young females to join the service and play their part in making SA a safer place,” she says.
These operations range from routine patrols to Search and Rescue (SAR) operations, to support operations for high risk units which include the Special Task Force (STF), National Intervention Unit (NIU), Tactical Response Teams (TRT), Public Order Police (POP) and the Counter Assault Team (CAT).
They also provide Operational Support during public unrests and crowd control operations, Vehicle, Stock as well as Game Theft Operations.
They mainly focus on tracking and tracing suspects in high risk incidents such as Cash-In-Transit (CIT) heists, armed robberies, hijacking’s and a host of other serious and violent crimes.
Apart from providing air support to specialised teams on the ground, these members are trained in assisting pilots with observations and also reading of aerial maps.
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 Airborne Law Enforcement Officer (ALEO), a member needs to have at least three years’ experience in an operational environment. Following a rigorous selection process, successful applicants undergo training which is specific to Airborne Law Enforcement Officers.
According to Sergeant Kabini, to survive in this environment, one ought to possess a number of personality and character traits.
Of importance is for one’s situational awareness to be up to standard, be brave and calm, be a decisive individual so as to 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.
“To Sergeant Kabini and other female Airborne Law Enforcement Officers (ALEO) we salute you for stamping your authority in this male dominated environment. We also say thank you for putting your country first,” reads the SAPS statement.