May 28, 2022

Mawazo Writing Africa

Writing about the main

From taxi driver to chief harbour master – and now he’s ready for his next degree

A first port captain who started out as a taxi driver in Mamelodi, Pretoria, graduated from the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) on Friday with a postgraduate diploma in maritime studies – and is now reading for an MCom in Leadership Studies.

Rufus Lekala, Chief of Maritime Services for the Transnet National Port Authority, began his career in the maritime sector at what was then Cape Technikon in 1995 when he completed a Transnet Scholarship for Diploma in Maritime Studies. At that time he had been working as a taxi driver in Mamelodi for five years.

“I desperately needed a job that would lift my family and me out of poverty. Fortunately, the maritime sector presented itself as a home I will never trade for anything,” he said.

Born in a small village called Kutupu in Limpopo, Lekala is married with three children and is proud of his achievements.

“I’m really proud of myself, but more importantly, I’m grateful for the support and encouragement from my family,” Lekala said.

Since then, he Mark managed it in various positions, starting with Transnet as a tugboat captain in the port of Cape Town and then as a sea pilot in the port of Saldanha Bay.

Lekala was the first black harbor master in Cape Town in 2002 in the port of East London and later in Cape Town and Durban before being appointed Chief Harbor Master of the Transnet National Port Authority in June 2011.

Here, Lekala is tasked with overseeing the planning and execution of seaport operations, such as identifying vessels operating within theport, vessel traffic management services, provision of pilotage services, conservation and other maritime activities.

He is currently pursuing a Masters of Commerce in Maritime Studies through UKZN.

His study focuses on the Effects of Changing Container Ship Sizes on Ports and examines the cascading effects from the perspective of South Africa’s Complementary Container Port System in Durban, Ngqura and Cape Town. Dusty-Lee Donnelly congratulated Lekala on his academic success and wished him well in his future research endeavors.

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