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Tuesday, June 1, 2021

the first woman to drive Casspir


The saying “Dynamite comes in small packages” is an understatement as displayed by  Amy fielding attached to the Springbok Public Order Police unit. This petite, young energetic Constable showed what she’s made of when she first successfully passed her Code 10 and PDP licence in Springbok recently.  This photo captured my attention in twitter.. .. and hence followed the news to read :


India is reeling under pandemic – IPL was cancelled after few players tested positive inside the bio-bubble, yet Cricket is happening elsewhere ! An exciting 5-match women's series awaits fans as the Zimbabwe Women go up against the South Africa Emerging Women. Both teams will come into this series with some domestic and a little bit of international experience behind them. While the hosts will have the home ground advantage, their last one-day game came against the Pakistan Women in February. The 6-match white-ball series ended after just one game, with the visitors winning by a massive 178 runs. South Africa Emerging side will consist of some senior players like Anneke Bosch, Andrie Steyn and Tazmin Brits who have made great strides in the last few years. Bosch was also a part of the SA Women side that toured India earlier this year while Steyn will be coming off a great run against the Bangladesh Emerging side. With a wealth of experience behind them and some tough losses to the Namibia Eagles this month, the SA Emerging Women will hope to start their series with a win.

The Casspir is a Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected Vehicle that has been in use in South Africa since the 1980s. It is a four-wheeled, four-wheel drive vehicle, used for transport of troops. It can hold a crew of two, plus 12 additional soldiers and associated equipment. The Casspir was unique in design when launched, providing for passive mine defence. The main armoured steel body of the vehicle is raised high above the ground, so when a mine is detonated, the explosion is less likely to damage the crew compartment and kill the occupants. The cross-section of the hull is V-shaped (V-hull), directing the force of the explosion outwards, further protecting the occupants. The vehicle also offers crew protection from small arms fire. The capabilities of the Casspir were the basis of the outline capabilities required by the U.S. Marines' for their Mine Resistant Ambush Protected or MRAP vehicle project.

The name 'Casspir' is an anagram of the abbreviations of the customer, the South African Police, and the design authority, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR – Applied Chemistry Unit that later became MECHEM).  Although the Casspir was deployed in townships during the apartheid era, it was initially designed specifically for conditions encountered in the South African Border War. It was at first extensively used by the infamous "Koevoet" police counter insurgency unit in northern Namibia during the apartheid era and later also by the South-West Africa Territorial Force's 101 Battalion and the SA Army's 5 Reconnaissance Regiment. The chief criteria for the design was good off-road mobility, armour protection against small arms fire and anti-personnel mines, and ease and speed of repair by a light workshop crew in the field after detonating an anti-tank mine.


The woman in photo at the start, Constable Amy Fielding is the first female cop in the Northern Cape to ever drive a police Casspir - The heavy vehicles have up until now only been driven by male officers - The young officer's determination and endurance meant she finally received the great honour this year. The Kimberly cop joins the handful of female officers in the country qualified to drive an armoured police vehicle. The intimidating machines are usually only manned by male colleges but Fielding was determined to drive one herself. After receiving her Code 10 driver's licence, which qualified the young woman to drive heavy trucks, Fielding knew it was time to move on to the even more taxing challenge of finally being authorised to drive a police Cassspir.  Constable Fielding’s determination paid off when she recently got behind the wheel of the huge SAPS Casspir and successfully manoeuvred the vehicle. Her evident skill behind the wheel resulted in her receiving her state authority at the Springbok Training Centre to drive the mammoth vehicle. The Acting Provincial Commissioner, Major General Henriette de Waal was very impressed and left speechless when she became aware of the young officer's amazing accomplishment.   

Back home, Ms Kiran Bedi  who was the 24th Lieutenant Governor of Puducherry from 2016 -2021, was  the first Indian female to become an officer in the Indian Police Service and started her service in 1972. She remained in service for 35 years before taking voluntary retirement in 2007 as Director General, Bureau of Police Research and Development. Kanchan Chaudhary Bhattacharya  was the second woman officer in Indian Police Service (IPS) and was  the first woman to become Director General of Police of a state and retired in serving for  33 years.  Tamil Nadu would well remember Ms Letika Saran, former Director General of Police. Earlier she served as the 36th Commissioner of Police in Chennai.  

Interesting ! 

With regards – S. Sampathkumar


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