Thabo Ramoeletsi

Senior ammunition marking technician, Armscor

You will never know what you can achieve until you try. These are the words that keep 33-year-old Thabo Ramoeletsi inspired in his role of senior ammunition marking technician in the weapons system division of Armscor.

As one of just two people in this role across the country, Ramoeletsi knows the responsibility he carries, ensuring the ammunition and explosives marking of the South Africa’s armaments industry is accurate and according to approved department of defence standards.

As a boy growing up in Botshabelo, a township near Bloemfontein, he dreamed of a career that was different from the aspirations of his friends. Always intrigued by engineering, he grabbed the opportunity to join the Ammunition and Explosives division of the South African National Defence Force in 2005, as one of just 15 black people in an intake of 150 — and he was the youngest.

“Nationally, in both the government and private sectors, the explosive and ammunition industry has not attracted many black people, so the joy of challenging the status quo and showing that I can succeed in the field is what has motivated me to remain committed to the industry for this long,” maintains Ramoeletsi, who refers to himself as a game-changer.

The regulations behind marking ammunition are governed by international laws and standards from Nato and the UN. His role is to interpret these regulations to formulate the ones best suited to South Africa. Ramoeletsi’s great challenge in his role is dusting off the stigma of being younger than his colleagues. “Having to constantly prove myself to those older than me is something I have to do regularly — often people are stuck in old ways of doing things, and refuse to accept and adopt technological advancements.”

— Linda Doke

Twitter: @ThaboRamoeletsi