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Mom of Three Wins South Africa’s Best Truck Driver Award in #ThankYouTrucker Competition

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In a significant milestone for the trucking industry, Cynthia Noneka Thala, a mother of three and an exceptional Bulk Vehicle Operator (BVO), has emerged as the winner of the IVECO #ThankYouTrucker award for 2023.

Thala’s victory is a testament to her dedication, hard work, and the resilience she displayed in a male-dominated profession.

Cynthia Noneka Thala, a remarkable truck driver who transitioned from a career as a bus driver, joined the Unitrans Total Alrode Operations in 2019.

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She made history by becoming the first female BVO at Total Witbank.

Thala makes history once again becoming the first female trucker to win the prestigious #ThankYouTrucker award.

This achievement has earned her a cash prize of R50,000 which she plans to share with her family, including an orphaned child under her care, and invest the rest.

The competition was fierce, with seasoned truckers from the male-dominant profession competing for the prestigious award.

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Gerhardus (Pikkie) Klaase from Koegelenberg Transport BK in Vredendal secured the second position, receiving a prize of R10,000, while Nkosinathi Peaceman Chiliza from ACT Logistics in Gauteng landed in third place, winning R5,000.

Gerhardus (Pikkie) Klaase from Koegelenberg Transport BK in Vredendal secured the second position
Gerhardus (Pikkie) Klaase from Koegelenberg Transport BK in Vredendal secured the second position

Read | Zimbabwean man shares how he grew from being a van driver to owning 37 trucks in the UK

Nkosinathi Peaceman Chiliza from ACT Logistics in Gauteng landed in third place, winning R5,000
Nkosinathi Peaceman Chiliza from ACT Logistics in Gauteng landed in third place, winning R5,000

The nominees for the award were selected by company owners, operations managers, direct line managers, or fleet managers, emphasizing the importance of recognition from within the industry.

Only South African drivers in the local road freight industry were eligible for nomination.

In addition to the cash prizes for the top three winners, an additional award of R10,000 was allocated to the individual who nominated the winner.

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Cynthia Noneka Thala expressed her gratitude for the recognition, saying, “I feel abundantly blessed, and I also feel the love of God is with me always. I will never stop believing in Him; He is a miracle maker. Thank you, IVECO for making things happen.”

Thala’s Operations Supervisor, Samuel Makgoba, praised her as one of the finest BVOs, commending her precision and unwavering commitment.

Thala’s remarkable track record includes delivering 11.4 million liters without incident, completing 855 trips and 952 drops, achieving 651 days without injury, and maintaining 651 days without violating life-saving rules.

Her four years of dedication to Unitrans have made her an indispensable part of the team.

While Thala possesses robust administrative skills, her love and passion for her job shine through.

Those who know her describe her as “vivacious with a magnetic personality.”

Thala has set her sights on co-owning a trucking business and will be using part of her R50,000 winnings to obtain her National Certificate in Professional Driving, a goal she aims to achieve by the end of 2023.

This course is designed to further promote women’s involvement in the trucking industry.

Thala’s journey into the trucking industry began when she worked as a bus driver.

Despite discouragement from friends who considered truck driving unconventional for a woman, she remained steadfast in pursuing her dream.

Her determination paid off in 2020 when she was named BVO of the Year.

The IVECO #ThankYouTrucker campaign, in partnership with the Road Freight Association (RFA), was initiated three years ago with the specific aim of acknowledging the exceptional skills and dedication of truck drivers who go above and beyond their duties.

Elvis Mutseura, IVECO’s Product Marketing Manager, highlighted that this annual award is intended to pay tribute to truckers who play a crucial role in keeping the country’s logistics industry operational, raise awareness about their significant contributions, and inspire those who aspire to join the industry.

Truck drivers like Cynthia Noneka Thala bear a substantial responsibility not only in ensuring profitable and timely deliveries but also in maintaining road safety.

Thala’s win is not just a personal triumph but also a testament to the growing diversity and inclusivity within the trucking profession.

Her success serves as an inspiration to all, proving that determination and dedication can break down barriers in any field. Congratulations to Cynthia Noneka Thala on this well-deserved achievement!

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