Por­tia mines beyond pa­tri­ar­chal depths

She’s do­ing job some say isn’t suited for women

Sowetan - - Job Market - By Isaac Mahlangu

Por­tia Masango is one of only about 12 fe­males work­ing at Palesa Mine out­side Bronkhorstspruit, north east of Gaut­eng.

The small coal mine, sit­u­ated be­tween the town­ships of KwaMh­langa and Ekan­gala, by the bor­der of Gaut­eng and Mpumalanga, has more than 200 em­ploy­ees.

Masango, 29, a diesel clerk for a com­pany con­tracted by the mine, never dreamt of pur­su­ing a ca­reer in a male-dom­i­nated in­dus­try, where she’d wear over­alls, hard hats and safety boots every sin­gle work­day.

“When I was 16 I pic­tured my­self work­ing in an of­fice or hav­ing my own events man­age­ment com­pany,” she says.

A diesel clerk en­sures that all the ma­chines such as the rigid and ar­tic­u­lated dump trucks are ready for work and are ad­e­quately fu­eled and re­fu­eled if nec­es­sary.

She de­scribes her­self as a “very so­cial per­son who en­joys spend­ing time with my son, fam­ily and friends”.

Af­ter ma­tric­u­lat­ing in 2006 at Mz­imhlophe High School in Twee­fontein, Mpumalanga, Masango went to study tourism at Rose­bank Col­lege in Pre­to­ria.

She pic­tured her­self work­ing in the hos­pi­tal­ity in­dus­try deal­ing with tourists and do­ing a bit of trav­el­ling her­self upon com­plet­ing her stud­ies. How­ever, re­al­ity was harsh and dif­fer­ent for Masango as an un­em­ployed youth strug­gling to land a job.

The mine, just a stone’s throw from her home vil­lage, ad­ver­tised sev­eral va­can­cies. Masango “took a chance”, sub­mit­ted her CV and lady luck smiled upon her in Novem­ber 2015.

“I was one just of the un­em­ployed young peo­ple look­ing for any job when a friend told me about the ad­ver­tised va­cant posts here,” she says.

Masango was ap­pointed as a water pump at­ten­dant and her world changed for the bet­ter.

“Hon­estly, I knew noth­ing about min­ing, I didn’t even know what open­cast was or how deep the coal was. I think it was by luck that I got in,” she says.

How­ever, Masango faces the con­stant pres­sures of hav­ing to dou­ble her ef­forts to prove

‘‘ I get to show that min­ing is also a ca­reer for women

her ca­pa­bil­i­ties as a woman.

“What I don’t like about this field is that I get re­minded that I am a woman, es­pe­cially by those old-school men who still be­lieve a woman’s place is the kitchen,” she says.

How­ever, de­spite the at­ti­tude from some of her male col­leagues, Masango has big dreams. “I’d like to see my­self ris­ing to even be­come the mine’s man­ager or even own­ing a stake in it,” she says con­fi­dently.

Masango feels like she’s rep­re­sent­ing her com­mu­nity by be­ing em­ployed at the mine.

“And be­ing one of the few women work­ing here makes it ex­tra spe­cial as I get to show peo­ple that min­ing is also a ca­reer for women to pur­sue,” she says.

/ SUPPLIED

Por­tia Masango used to pic­ture her­self work­ing in an of­fice.

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