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Bomb-buster’s explosive career

Written by: Allison Cooper

Growing up, Lieutenant-Colonel Daphney Gada (41) was surrounded by strong women. Although her family had little money after her parents separated, her life was rich in love and inspiration. Lieutenant-Colonel Daphney Gada fighting crime in the SAPS’s Explosives Division.

She was raised in Krugersdorp in the West Rand and while it was her policeman father who inspired her to join the South African Police Service (SAPS), it was her grandmother, mother, sisters and aunts who taught her to be strong and to love and respect herself and other women.

In her 16 years in the SAPS, she has moved through the ranks and today is a proud member of the Explosives Division in Pretoria, where she spends her days attending to explosives scenes and enforcing the Explosives Act.

With South Africa celebrating Women’s Month, she says it is a good time to remember that women are not second-class citizens. “Know your worth – you have the right to equality both in the workplace and at home,” she says.

An explosive journey

Lt-Col Gada was in her mid-20s and working as a hostess at a luxury coach operation when she saw a newspaper advert calling for police recruits in 2004. It had been her dream to serve and protect her country since she was 10 years old.

“I applied and was called for an interview, psychometric test and physical assessment. After being accepted, I went to the SAPS Training Academy.

Lt-Col Gada started off started off at the bottom as a trainee. “I and worked in the Client Service Centre and the K9 unit – where I was trained as a dog handler, before moving to the Explosives Section where I was trained as a bomb technician and an inspector of explosives.”  

Lt-Col Gada also holds a Bachelor of Policing Practice degree. 

“Highlights of my job include being part of one of the specialised sections in the SAPS that ensured the safety of the 2010 World Cup, inaugurations of the Presidents and important summits and events.”

Youngsters wanting to follow in her footsteps should focus on their schoolwork and finish Grade 12. “English, your home language, mathematics, physical science, technology and life orientation are subjects that will help you.

“This is not the job for you if you have a fear of water, heights or small spaces. You should be in good health, both mentally and physically, and have self-discipline and the willingness to work extra hours. Tertiary qualifications in policing and electronics are an advantage,” she says.