Popya With Zita Van Der Merwe

Zita van der Merwe is the first woman to come out of her discomfort and do something out of the ordinary and extra-ordinary when in 2011 she became the first woman Aircraft Mechanic in Namibia.

Young, 22years, Zita is already making headlines in the men industry, and she is enjoying every minute of it. “I don’t like office job, I am more into physical work and I love anything to do with aircrafts. If I saw an aircraft I would stood and stare ever since I was young,” says she. As is the case with most young people, Zita was not sure what to study after Grade 12. She had four different ideas of careers that she would like to pursue and decided to work in the four different chosen careers so as to make 100% sure that her final decision was in fact the correct one. Having gone for job interviews in the four respective chosen fields, all didn’t interest her that much. But her career started when her father got sick. He was admitted to hospital in South Africa and then asked her to take care of his business, the administration side. However, she never planned it but she got bored and started joining the men to fix and remove car tyres in her father’s wheel alignment business. She eventually decided to follow a career as an aircrafts engineer. This decision was inspired by a family member, Jaco Olivier. In the beginning of 2011, her mother contacted WestAir Maintenance to enquire whether they had ever considered having a girl as an apprentice. After a few jokes and laughs, Gustaf Holtz said that he had to discuss it with the directors of Westair . A day later, Zita was asked if she could start on February 1, 2011, which she gladly accepted. She worked in the Engine Shop for the rest of the year 2011.

In 2012, she spent the first six months in South Africa at Mega Aero Training Academy South Africa (MATASA) for additional practical training, which she successfully completed as one of the top three trainees. The last six months of 2012, the whole of 2013 and first six months of 2014 were spent acquiring the necessary hours to go for her trade test in South Africa. In July 2014 she became the first Namibian woman ever to qualify as an Aircraft Mechanic.

“My daily routine is to go down clean the cylinders, check the maintains of the wings and check the pressure for the tyres and removing the tyres and putting them back” informs Zita. She adds that she also experience challenges at her work as much as she love her work as there are days that the work might seem easy but it ends up being hard with her fellow men workmates still find it awkward to work with her because she is a woman. The most difficult times are that she have to wake up at three clock in the night when she is on standby.

But Zita is very proud of her achievement and still enjoys her job every day. In the week she works hard like a man and over weekends enjoys her girly life style. She wants to study further in this field, as there are so many opportunities to further her career. “I love it, it is fascinating and it is something different. Am proud of myself because I did it, it made me realise that nothing is impossible, anyone can do anything that they believe in,” Zita says.

In the future she wants to study further to obtain her license in aircraft. “That’s the great thing about being a mechanic, when you are a mechanic, there is always something new to learn, you never stop learning because the technology is always upgrading, there is always room to learn new things,” adds Zita. Her massage to the other youths is that they should be able to work under pressure, follow their hearts and stand up for themselves because nobody will do.

Source : New Era