10 May 2022 Volume :10 Issue :16

Transnet National Port Authority’s Chief Harbour Master Graduates at UKZN

Transnet National Port Authority’s Chief Harbour Master Graduates at UKZN
TNPA’s Chief Harbour Master Mr Rufus Lekala graduated with a Postgraduate Diploma in Maritime Studies.

The head of the Maritime Service for the Transnet National Port Authority, Mr Rufus Lekala graduated with a Postgraduate Diploma in Maritime Studies during one of UKZN’s Graduation ceremonies in May.

Lekala’s career in the maritime sector started at the erstwhile Cape Technikon in 1995 when he was thrown a lifeline by Transnet in the form of a bursary to pursue a Diploma in Maritime Studies after a five-year stint as a taxi driver in Mamelodi, Pretoria.

On stumbling into the maritime sector, he said: ‘There was nothing that inspired me to join the sector. I was in desperate need of a career that would take my family and I out of poverty. Fortunately, the maritime sector presented itself as a home that I will never trade for anything.’

Since then, Lekala has made his mark in various positions. He started out at Transnet as Tug Master in the Port of Cape Town, and went on to serve as a marine pilot in the Port of Saldahna Bay. He was the first Black Harbour Master in the Port of East London in 2002 and later in Cape Town and Durban prior to his appointment as Chief Harbour Master of the Transnet National Port Authority in June 2011.

As Chief Harbour Master, Lekala is tasked with the serious responsibility of overseeing the planning and execution of port marine operations such as designating where vessels should lie within the harbour, vessel traffic management services, provision of pilotage services, conservancy and other marine-related operations. 

He is currently reading for a Master of Commerce in Maritime Studies through UKZN. His study focuses on the impact of changing container vessel sizes on ports and he is exploring the cascading effects from the perspective of the South African complementary container ports system in Durban, Ngqura and Cape Town.

Lekala was born in small village called Kutupu in Limpopo and is married with three children.

On his achievement he said: ‘I feel really proud of myself, but more importantly, I’m grateful for the support and encouragement of my family.’

Acting Director of UKZN’s Unit of Maritime Law and Maritime Studies, Dr Dusty-Lee Donnelly congratulated Lekala on his academic achievement and wished him well in his future research endeavours.

Words: Hazel Langa

Photograph: Abhi Indarajan


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