Lance corporal Eliza Hartnick from Atlantis is one of five females in the military police to be a qualified drone pilot.
Lance corporal Eliza Hartnick from Atlantis is one of five females in the military police to be a qualified drone pilot.

SANDF drone pilot Eliza Hartnick hopes to inspire others

By African News Agency Time of article published Nov 27, 2020

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Durban - When Lance corporal Eliza Hartnick, 32, from Protea Park in Atlantis, Western Cape looks back, she would never have imagined she would be one of five women drone pilots for the military police.

After matriculating from Robinvale High School, Hartnick fell pregnant and felt she needed to get a job.

She took a job as a baker and cashier at a pie store and later landed a job as a promoter.

“As I was promoting Omo washing powder in Shoprite in Atlantis, a merchandiser in the store told me they were looking for staff.

“I always wanted a job working for the government, preferably in the policing sector, for some stability. I applied for a job in SAPS, the City of Cape Town’s Law Enforcement and Traffic Services and the SANDF,” Hartnick said.

SANDF responded to the single mother and she wrote a test, but was told they would get back to her in December of that year (2010).

While awaiting a response, Hartnick continued as a merchandiser, until she got her break.

On December 23, 2010, she was notified she would be leaving for the army base in January 2011.

“At the time, after two years one could become permanent, but I was unlucky and I was a reserve force member. This meant I was deployed for three months, and was home for five months, and went out whenever I was needed.

“But my luck changed, and in 2019 I was one of the lucky ones – I was one of 34 members out of more than 100 who was told to come back and I was deployed to the Langebaan base on the West Coast. I am a member of the

SANDF military police,” Hartnick said.

A former athlete at school, as soon as she was on her new base Hartnick started participating in athletics again, and a colleague began mentoring her. She flourished in the 100m and 200m races.

“I was part of the SANDF athletics club and got two gold medals at the Boland Championships in Paarl, the Better Together Games which involved all government departments, I got gold for the 100m and a trophy, but due to Covid-19 we could not compete this year, but I continued training,” Hartnick said.

June brought about another challenge that would change her life.

“In June, I was one of 10 people, five males, five females, nationwide, selected to attend a drone course from the military police.

“In July, we only attended the course for two weeks as Covid-19 cases surged in Gauteng and we were sent home for our own safety and well-being,” she said.

In September, as the country’s Covid-19 cases decreased, Hartnick got a call stating their course would resume.

“The course was not easy at all. I only had a matric certificate and while on the course I was robbed in Gauteng as well. I kept strong and refused to let that trauma get me down. I was grateful to have the support of my family and boyfriend, who got me through it all.

“On October 12, we graduated. It brought me so much joy, it was all worth it,” Hartnick said.

She hopes her story can inspire others from Atlantis to never give up. “I want to tell children out there. I know, when you hear about Atlantis all you hear is bad things, but there is so much good that can come from here.

“It is up to you to show you are not where you come from,” she added.

The Mercury

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