Lekala is South Africa's first youngest chief


[DURBAN, South Africa – 18 May 2011] Seven years after becoming the youngest harbour master in the world, Rufus Lekala of South African port landlord Transnet National Ports Authority will again make history when he takes up office as the country’s first Chief Harbour Master of colour. His appointment, effective 1 June, will also make him the youngest person in this position worldwide.

Lekala, 41, succeeds maritime stalwart Captain Mike Brophy who served in the position from 2005 until his recent retirement.

Tau Morwe, newly appointed Chief Executive of Transnet National Ports Authority, said the appointment was one of the most crucial in the port authority’s programme of transformation.

“With Rufus’s background he will be invaluable in helping TNPA to implement its new strategy and vision through a revitalised approach to doing business and achieving our strategic objectives. He will be responsible for strategic thinking around maritime projects in South Africa, setting maritime policy, implementing international best practice and acting as Transnet’s liaison with entities such as the Department of Transport, the International Maritime Association and the International Lighthouse Association,” said Morwe.

Lekala will also be active in developing harbour masters to serve as authorities on navigating vessels safely in and out of South African ports. The harbour masters will have a dotted line reporting to the Chief Harbour Master and a direct reporting line to Port Managers at the respective ports.

Speaking of his latest appointment, Lekala says, “It has been a rewarding journey and I am immensely grateful to those who have helped me to get to this historic point. My focus as I settle into the role will be on stabilising the department structure, while updating the country’s policies on marine resources, dangerous cargo movement, vessel entry guidelines, ship vetting systems, training and development, and much more.”

Lekala is a member of the International Harbour Masters’ Association and has served as its deputy president from 2008, rubbing shoulders with other global harbour masters.

Over the past 10 years, his career trajectory has seen him break the ice as the first black harbour master at several South African ports.

From the small, 35 vessels-a-month Port of East London, to the 300 vessels-a-month Port of Cape Town and eventually the Port of Durban, one of Africa’s busiest, he is now widely recognised as one of the country’s most senior authorities on vessel navigation and safety.

He will also begin reading for a Bachelor of Law at the University of KwaZulu-Natal next year to deepen his understanding of the legal aspects governing maritime issues in South Africa.


Source: press release meropa.co.za

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