/ 1 December 2023

SAMSA’s 25 Year Anniversary: Section One

Samsa Cover Image

Celebrating 25 years of the South African Maritime Safety Authority


Section One:

  • Statement from the Board Chair, Mr Mahesh Fakir
  • A statement by SAMSA ACEO, Mr Tau Morwe
  • SAMSA Board of Directors’ profile
  • Boating safety – A key SAMSA priority across all of South Africa’s waters

Section Two:

Section Three:

Section Four:

  • Ports Consultative Committee, a key cog in South Africa’s port management  – Maritime research from a developmental perspective
  • Fishers and fishing: Promoting South Africa’s maritime interests
  • Stevedoring: Safety of workers a primary focus at South Africa’s commercial cargo ports
  • Blessed is the hand that gives
  • SAMSA countrywide 



All stories written by Sicelo Fayo, except for Maritime research from a developmental perspective, written by Sicelo Fayo & Tebogo Mojafi


Layout: Lethabo Hlahatsi

Sub editor: Derek Davey

Senior Key Accounts Manager: Chrystal Dryding

Statement from the Board Chair: Mr Mahesh Fakir

The Minister of Transport Hon. Lydia Sindisiwe Chikunga (M.P.) appointed a new SAMSA Board for a period of three years with effect from 01 September 2023 in line with section 13 of the South African Maritime Safety Authority Act, 1998 (Act No. 5 of 1998), with the term of the previous Board having come to an end on the 11th of August 2023 but extended until the appointment of the new Board was finalized.

Mahesh Fakir, SAMSA Board Chair. 

The appointed members are as follows:

  • Mr Mahesh Fakir (Chairman)
  • Mr Tau Morwe (Non-Executive Director) (Deputy Chairman) (returning)
  • Mr Sihle Nguse (Non-Executive Director)
  • Dr Natalie Skeepers (Non-Executive Director)
  • Adv Nosipho Sobekwa (Non-Executive Director)
  • Ms Feziwe Nojozi (Non-Executive Director)

As Chairperson, it is my honour to welcome such a knowledgeable team with diverse skills at the helm of SAMSA to guide it in our mission to “provide leadership in maritime safety, prevent and combat marine pollution for a sustainable maritime environment whilst supporting an innovative, progressive and a vibrant maritime economy”. 

The new Board has begun its work to stabilise the internal environment of SAMSA, as well as to align its efforts towards achieving its external mission and goals. At its inaugural meeting, having been presented with notice of the resignation of the previous Acting CEO and CFO, the Board took the important step of bringing immediate leadership stability to the organisation by unanimously recommending to the Minister of Transport that Mr Tau Morwe (the Deputy Board Chairperson) be appointed as the Acting CEO of SAMSA with effect 4 October 2023 for a term of six months. 

We thank Hon. Minister Chikunga for graciously accepting our nomination and duly appointing Mr Morwe as ACEO.

The Board has tasked Mr Morwe to provide stability to the organisation whilst undertaking a fair and impartial recruitment process for a permanent CEO and for other executive and senior positions that require filling. Mr Morwe brings a wealth of experience and a proven track record of leadership in our industry and experience as a CEO of TPT and TNPA previously. His dedication, vision, and strategic thinking have consistently driven success in previous roles, making Mr Morwe the ideal choice to guide us through this transitional period whilst the recruitment processes for key posts are expedited. 

Also, in line with restoring the internal stabilisation and functioning of SAMSA, the Board, having duly applied itself to the various investigations and reports on the suspension of the COO for a long period, decided to implement the recommendations of Senior Counsel and has accordingly reinstated Mr Sobantu Tilayi back in his post at SAMSA as the Chief Operating Officer. 

In line with improving the financial stability and sustainability of the organisation, by reducing high ongoing costs, and increasing revenue and value-for-money, the SAMSA board has in line with the Department of Transport pre-approval, concluded the sale of the SA Agulhas I, with preconditions on the continued training of South African seafarers as well as South African flagging.

These significant initial developments mark an exciting new chapter in SAMSA. We are confident that with Mr Morwe’s leadership and Mr Tilayi’s reinstatement, we will begin to chart a course for a more stable and sustainable SAMSA that achieves new heights of excellence and becomes an organisation that South Africa will speak of with pride.

Indeed attention needs to be given to ensure that in future SAMSA more fully delivers on its pre-determined objectives as set out in its Annual Performance Plan and Strategic Plan, as well as to initiating and coordinating processes to achieve full compliance on the many international maritime conventions of the IMO that our country is signatory to.  

In addition to these, the focus on SAMSA’s external mission of expanding the SA ship registry, SA seafarer training, coastal community development and SA maritime industry transformation and development, as well as contribution to Department of Transport maritime initiatives, are set to fully occupy our minds, and test the efforts of the new board for the next three years. 

We are committed to working constructively with the Honourable Minister and shareholder department, other key government departments, SAMSA management, sister public enterprises and industry stakeholders during the upcoming term of office, in order to advance SAMSA’s strategic objectives, in line with South Africa’s developmental objectives. 

As eloquently stated in our inaugural meeting: “we are here to serve SAMSA”, and we are mindful that the decisions we take must improve the future of our organisation and enhance its stature and growth. I am confident that we can make significant progress in restoring and enhancing SAMSA as a vital contributor to South Africa’s national development.

A statement by SAMSA ACEO, Mr Tau Morwe

The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), established 25 years ago under the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA Act, No. 5 of 1998, and classified as a Schedule 3A public entity in terms of the Public Finance Management Act No. 1 of 1999(“PFMA”), is among the country’s strategically positioned State institutions.

SAMSA Acting CEO, Tau Morwe.

The Maritime Authority is responsible for executing a set of legislative objectives set out in the Act as follows: 

  • To ensure safety of life and property at sea; 
  • To prevent and combat pollution of the marine environment by ships; and 
  • To promote the Republic’s maritime interests.

Section 7 (1) of the SAMSA Act provides that “the Minister may give the Authority written directions regarding the performance of its duties” and in terms of section 356 of the Merchant Shipping Act, 1951 (Act no: 57 of 1951), the Minister promulgated the Merchant Shipping (National Small Vessel Safety) regulations 2007. This expanded SAMSA’s obligation to include small vessel activities across South Africa’s inland waters.

SAMSA is also responsible for monitoring the activities of sea going vessels traversing South African waters, providing maritime search and rescue services and ensuring safe navigation through our Maritime Rescue and Coordination Centre (MRCC) and Maritime domain awareness.

In the 25 years of its existence, the entity has not only successfully ensured that it delivered consistently on the basic requirements for fulfilment of the mandate, but also immensely contributed to ongoing endeavours to position the country as a global international maritime centre. 

Among SAMSA’s key set of goals in its five-year strategic plan for the 2022-25 period and illustrated in this current financial year’s annual performance plan, is the entity’s defined contribution to the enhancement of the competitiveness of South Africa’s maritime industry. SAMSA is also responsible for the exploitation of the economic sector’s potential for job creation and transformation. 

SAMSA recognises and acknowledges the effective execution and resultant success, is the need for continuous engagement, cooperation and collaboration with its varied stakeholders and interested parties.

Central to the stakeholder relations management aspect, is a continuous sharing of information about its planned activities inclusive of the challenges, successes, as well as failures associated therewith. 

It is with this purpose in mind that with this publication, SAMSA shares a record of several of its activities – some dating back two decades – as well as a narrative on its current and future work. It is a fitting exercise in marking the entity’s 25th anniversary.

Notably, among the articles being published is a statement by the   SAMSA’s new Board of Director’s Chairperson, Mr Mahesh Fakir, briefly outlining the plan of action, to strengthen and turnaround the authority. 

The list of articles also included in this publication, covers SAMSA’s experiences, plans, programmes and associated achievements or disappointments. These pertains amongst others; our country’s progress with maritime law reform, promotion of safety and fair working conditions for seafarers broadly, progress with SAMSA’s maritime sector public awareness programmes.

Additionally, we highlight achievements in skills development, job creation through the Maritime Youth Development Programme, as well as South Africa’s continued global contribution to the maritime sector development domestically, internationally across the board. 

We are confident that the information shared with the public and stakeholders would begin the process of creating a better understanding of the work that SAMSA is entrusted with, as well as the milestones achieved or outlined for pursuit.

SAMSA Board of Directors – Profiles

(In no particular order)

Mr Mahesh Fakir (Chairperson)

Mahesh Fakir has been appointed as the Chairperson of SAMSA, and also currently serves as a member of the board of the CSIR. He has in the past also served on the boards of PRASA as well as the Ports Regulator of South Africa. Mahesh Fakir served as CEO of the Ports Regulator for an extended term of office from 2014 to 2020. He has overseen the development of the Ports Regulator’s first Multi-year Tariff Methodology, the Tariff Strategy, the Port Sector Review, many port performance and price benchmarking studies, and compliance reviews in the port system. More recently, he has assisted the Presidency and National Treasury as a consulting port expert with Operation Vulindlela in the economic recovery plan of South Africa, and currently with the development of the Freight Logistics Roadmap, and in the work of the National Logistics Crisis Committee (NLCC) announced by H.E. President Cyril Ramaphosa. Prior to this, he served for 8 years in the National Treasury where he helped establish infrastructure budgeting at country level, serving in the Budget Office as a Director, as well as in the Public Finance Division as a Chief Director. He also served in the Presidency: DPME for 4 years at DDG level as an Outcome Facilitator for Economic Infrastructure and contributed to the establishment and work of the Presidential Infrastructure Coordinating Commission. He is a civil engineer by profession, having worked extensively as a design engineer as well as a senior lecturer in engineering at tertiary level. He holds three master’s degrees: an MSc in Civil Engineering (UDW), an MBA (UDW), and an MSc in Development Finance (Univ. London), in addition to other undergraduate and postgraduate qualifications.

Mr Tau Morwe (Deputy Chairperson)

Mr. Morwe was appointed as the Deputy Chairperson of the SAMSA Board, embarking on a three-year tenure starting from January 10, 2023. His appointment brought with it a wealth of experience, particularly in the maritime sector. Mr Morwe holds a BA in Economics from Howard University and a Data Processing / Computer Specialist Certificate from Yorktowne Business Institute, amongst other training programmes.

Having commenced his journey with Transnet in 1997, Mr. Morwe quickly ascended the corporate ladder. Over the years, he served as the Chief Executive of four divisions within the group – Apron Services (Pty) Ltd (a Transnet-owned subsidiary), Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA), Transnet Freight Rail (TFR) and was the first CE of Transnet Port Terminals (TPT). He was one of the longest-serving and most experienced members of the executive committee at Transnet, showcasing his adept leadership skills. Mr Morwe, in 1998, also participated in the Singapore-Commonwealth Advanced Seminar for Chief Executives of Public Enterprises. This experience ignited his passion for developmental state economics, a flame he carried into his impactful work with the government of the Republic of Togo.

Beyond his corporate endeavours, Mr. Morwe holds a deep interest in development economics, policy formulation and implementation, supply chain management, logistics, Management Information Systems (MIS), manufacturing excellence, operations, and business turnaround strategies. His extensive career has seen him in senior positions across notable companies, contributing significantly to their growth and success. Furthermore, Mr. Morwe has extended his leadership to various Boards, serving as Chairperson on multiple entities. His commitment to governance and strategic direction has left an indelible mark on the organizations he has been associated with.

Dr Natalie Skeepers (Ph.D.) 

A safety engineer by profession, Dr Skeepers holds a Ph.D. in Engineering Management (University of Johannesburg) complimented by more than 25 years of work experience about half of which she held at various senior and executive positions in both the public and private sector. Dr Skeepers is currently an independent consultant in the infrastructure development space and is also serving as a non-executive director in several companies.

Adv. Nosipho Aurelia Sobekwa

A maritime specialist, a qualified teacher with no less than 15 years of service and holder of several academic qualifications including BA, BPROC, LLB, LLM, and LLM as well as diplomas in fields including Legislative Drafting, Marine Surveys, Yachts & Small Craft Surveys. Adv. Sobekwa has vast work experience encompassing services rendered in no less than four (4) national government Departments including Environmental Affairs, Water Affairs, and Transport, as well as the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), with a specialisation in Environmental Law, Pollution Control, International Environmental Law, Economics of Ports and Harbors, International Trade, Maritime Transport Economics, Carriage of Goods by Sea and Maritime Law, which saw her also lead several South African Delegations to the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in London and the UN in New York & Vienna, Switzerland. Adv Sobekwa’s first profession was that of teaching – being a Geography HoD and a Deputy Principal of a High School. She has also written 25 training modules for high school maritime learners.

Ms Nogolide Feziwe Nojozi

The holder of among other academic qualifications, a Master’s degree in Public and Development Management (Wits University), Ms Nojozi is also a veteran diplomat with over 20 years’ of experience in leadership and governance in the public, private and social sectors involving various management/executive and leadership roles in both sectors. Her areas of focus are strategic leadership and corporate governance in all three sectors.

Mr Sihle Nguse

A labour relations specialist with a keen interest in civic matters, Mr Nguse, a holder of a Bachelor of Commerce in International Business (MANCOSA) degree, a diploma in Tourism, as well as Labour Relations Management and Public Relations (UNISA) certificates, boasts experience as a union representative, as well as experience in local government in the Johannesburg City Council. His career interests encompass fields that include research, tourism development and youth career development. Mr Nguse is currently a Ward Councillor for the City of Johannesburg and National Sector Coordinator at the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (SATAWU).

Mr Metse James Ralephenya

Mr Metse James Ralephenya is currently a Director in the Department of Transport (DoT) Maritime branch.  His Directorate focuses on the Implementation, Monitoring and Evaluation of legislation by State entities such as the National Ports Authority, South African Maritime Safety Authority and the Ports Regulator of South Africa. He holds a Post-Graduate Diploma in Public Policy and Development Administration from Wits among others, and he is in the process of finalising his dissertation for a Masters in Maritime Studies with UKZN. Mr Ralephenya is a veteran administrator and has worked very closely with government departments such as dept of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment, The South African Navy (Hydrography Office), SAPS water wing and other stakeholders. He also represents South Africa at the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) Committees such as the Maritime Safety Committee and the Marine Environment Protection Committee. On Maritime Security, he has represented RSA at the Djibouti Code of Conduct (DCoC) forum for over 8 years and RSA was elected as Chair of the DCoC’s Steering Committee unopposed in October 2023. Mr Ralephenya presides over the business of the DCoC as the Chairperson of the Steering Committee for a term ending December 2025.

Boating safety – A key SAMSA priority across all of South Africa’s waters

This is enforced through inspection campaigns, workshops for information sharing and training, and regular audits and focused training for safety officers

South Africa’s geolocation at the foot of the African continent is characterised largely by a vast aquatic space comprising on the one hand, a massive sea space with three vast oceans; the Atlantic, the Southern, and the Indian Oceans, and on the other hand, a network of main and tributary rivers totalling about 163 500 kilometres across nine provinces. It comes little as little surprise that the country has one of Africa’s largest fleets of water-going vessels, almost all of which are large to medium fishing and small leisure vessels. 

SAMSA boat surveyors at work conducting inspections of vessels being repaired.

Add this to the vast global fleet of vessels of all shapes and sizes sailing past the Cape of Good Hope annually, taking advantage of the oceans passage window midpoint between Western world countries (Americas and Western Europe) and the Eastern countries, and it readily lays bare the most critical role and responsibility South Africa has in terms of consistently ensuring, year in and out, the safety of people and vessels traversing its waters.

It is an ocean space in which South Africa has direct control of an exclusive economic zone sprawling over 1.5-million square kilometres, abutting a coastline of close to 4 000km long. It is noteworthy that South Africans do not merely acquire water transport from elsewhere and just hop onto the many vessels on the country’s waters, for either business, subsistence, recreation, or leisure, but they also self-produce a significant percentage of them.

By some accounts, South Africa’s ship and vessels production industry is worth several billions of rand, with recreational boats ranked the 18th biggest export variant worldwide in 2021.

SAMSA Boating unit conducting one of several training workshops for stakeholders in boat safety.

The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year, is the sole State entity mandated specifically with three broad objectives relating to water-based transport vessels: ensuring the safety of people and property at sea, prevention and combating of pollution by ships and advancing South Africa’s maritime interests. 

It is within this space that SAMSA’s dedicated boating unit is championing the safety of both the many people on small vessels, as well as the vessels themselves on the country’s waters — inclusive of fishing (commercial, sporting and subsistence), recreational and leisure — both at sea as well as in inland waterways. The vessel safety gospel being preached is by no means limited to the use of small vessels, but also encompasses their manufacturing guidelines and licensing for utilisation.

Based in Cape Town, under the leadership of Debbie James, guiding the work of the SAMSA boating unit is a set of directives, laws and regulations. Central to these is the Merchant Shipping (National Small Vessel Safety) Regulations 2007, and on which now also heavily leans the Department of Transport’s South Africa Inland Waters Strategy (Small Vessels Safety) launched in 2021, to essentially give effect to the ministry’s Comprehensive Maritime Transport Policy (CMTP) approved by Cabinet in May 2017.

The basic principles of the NSVSR broadly cover a wide range of boating safety focused aspects relating to among others, vessel safety requirements and crewing, special provisions for unregistered pleasure vessels, and supplemental matters; stipulating a set of standards and practices that must be met prior to and during their general utilisation, designated powers of SAMSA and its authorised agencies, as well nature of offences, penalties and related matters. 

For effective implementation of the regulations, SAMSA boating unit’s safe boating promotion strategy has evolved gradually over the years to focus not only on heavy-handed enforcement of compliance, but to one characterised by inclusiveness. 

SAMSA boating unit head Debbie James during an ad hoc inspection of boats at the Vaal Dam in 2022.

The latest innovative approach is underpinned by an active promotion of greater cooperation and collaboration with both State departments and public services institutions at national regional and local government levels, private sector institutions and the boat owning community associations at large.

This is pursued through deployment, for regular stakeholders’ interaction, of highly qualified SAMSA officials, working closely together with designated authorised agencies, along both the country’s 3 200km coastline for seagoing vessels, as well as areas in the rest of inland waterways with significant boating activity.

Key features of the SAMSA boating unit’s safe boating promotion strategy implementation encompass compliance enforcement with regulations through the staging and conducting, periodically, of ad hoc and concentrated inspections campaigns, workshops for information sharing and training, as well as regular audits and focused training for safety officers. 

Consequently, at times, vessel inspections are conducted jointly with among others, Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) port officers, as well as several key stakeholders including the South African Police Services (SAPS), SANPARKS, Department of Forestry, Fisheries and Environment (DFFE), and local municipalities.

These programmes have, according to the unit, intensified over the last fours years since the gradual easing of the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic, and the launch of the DoT’s Inland Waterways Strategy in 2021. Inspection campaigns are conducted according to type of vessels and location concentrations at different times, such as passenger vessels ahead of major holiday periods such as the festive season, or on fishing vessels ahead of the harvesting season.

Planned, intense, random ad-hoc and concentrated inspections campaigns have been held regularly right across the country, from Tzaneen in Limpopo, Loskop in Mpumalanga, Hartees in North West, Vaal and Gariep in Gauteng and Free State to Richards Bay, Durban, East London, Port Alfred, Kenton-on-Sea, Port Elizabeth, St Francis Bay, Plettenberg Bay, Knysna, Robertson, Swellendam, Berg River, Kleinemond, Mossel Bay, Cape Town, Saldanha Bay and the Orange River in Northern Cape.

The SAMSA Boating unit says ad-hoc inspections are conducted to not only ensure the compliance of vessels and their owners with applicable safe boating regulations but are intended to also “show face and engage with the community”.

According to the unit, the maritime industry is no stranger to the importance of rigorous inspections and adherence to local and international regulations. “SAMSA is always looking at improving safety at sea”. All the work that we undertake enables us to strive toward a common goal and to honour a pledge that we make towards South Africa’s maritime industry for improving safety at sea.

A grounded fishing vessel in Gqeberha in 2022 being refloated with the help of a tug.

Ad hoc inspections are performed to determine if vessels and their owners are compliant with the necessary paperwork and that they have the required safety appliances on board before heading out to sea. While performing these ad-hoc inspections, SAMSA tries to have conversations with the skippers and crew to learn more about their clients and the area.

“On concentrated inspections campaigns, with the ever-growing focus on safety, environmental sustainability and operational efficiency, these have become an integral part of ensuring that vessels meet the highest standards of compliance,” says the unit.

Key to the success of the inspections is the holding of feedback sessions with the respective small vessels’ communities on a regular basis. Says the unit: “Concentrated inspection campaigns should not be viewed solely as a one-way communication process. The feedback sessions are a critically important aspect of engagement with the country’s boating community across subsectors, all in the interests of promoting safe and law complaint boating by all participants.

“We explore the significance of CIC feedback and its implications for vessel owners and skippers. We examine how this feedback acts as a driving force for continuous improvement, strengthens industry reputation, and fosters a culture of compliance and excellence.

“Vessel owners and skippers can benefit from actively engaging with SAMSA through seeking clarification on any feedback points and requesting additional guidance when needed. This communication fosters a constructive relationship between operators and regulatory bodies, leading to a better understanding of compliance.

SAMSA boat surveyors having a brief team chat ahead of a blitz boat inspection.

“Equally, by harnessing the insights provided by CIC feedbacks, SAMSA can collectively shape a safer, more sustainable, and efficient maritime landscape for the benefit of all stakeholders involved. Together, we can navigate safe seas.”

With the outbreak of the global Covid-19 pandemic in early 2020, there was a notable interruption to the work of the unit due both to the intensity of the spread of the respiratory virus, as well as the national lockdowns introduced to curb its spread. But this did not deter the unit as it was among participants during the formal launch of the DoT’s South Africa Inland Waters Strategy (Small Vessels Safety) at Lake Deneysville Yacht Club, Vaal Dam, Free State province on 22 October 2021. 

The unit says that the scope of the strategy is to promote safe recreational and commercial activity participation within the confined spaces of inland waters while supporting environmental conservation.

“Its purpose is to be goal-oriented, promoting a culture of safe and responsible boating, underpinned by compliance with the NSVS Regulations and other legislation, regulations, processes, education, communication, and awareness through co-operative governance between national, provincial, and local government, as well as industry (CIWSP), featuring the centralised national database to serve as a starting point for business intelligence.”

In addition to inspections, the boating unit also conducts audits, as well as training on safety for safety officers. “The audit aims to ensure that the safety officer complies with the NSVSR during their surveys. During the audit, the focus is on the safety officer’s compliance with the NSVSR and to assess the effectiveness of the safety officer’s procedures and documentation. When instances of non-compliance are discovered during the audit, the safety officer is required to respond with corrective actions. 

“We also review the safety officer’s documentation to determine if the safety officer maintains appropriate records of safety surveys conducted and if all the paperwork is completed to the required standard. The audit report includes an executive summary, audit findings, any non-compliance identified, recommendations for improvement, and an action plan for addressing any deficiencies. The report is then distributed to appropriate stakeholders for assessment and action.

The hazards of leisure boating: a passenger vessel on fire at Jozini Dam in KwaZulu-Natal in 2021.

“The training provided to safety officers, external and internal surveyors who conduct surveys on vessels seeks to ensure that they have the knowledge, skills, and tools necessary to assess vessels and ensure compliance with the NSVS regulations,” says the unit.

SAMSA in-house training 

As part of continued in-house training of surveyors, external surveyors and safety officers, SAMSA developed a two- and sometimes three-day course, depending on the amount of workload needed to be covered. During the year 2022, various in-house training courses were facilitated from different SAMSA port offices aiming to enhance surveying skills, standardising the format and to provide guidance on the application of the Merchant Shipping (National Small Vessel Safety) Regulations, 2007.

 The courses listed below were rolled out across different SAMSA offices and private premises.

  • Pontoon Boats Course
  • Small Vessels surveying course (Pleasure and Commercial)
  • Refresher Build-In Buoyancy Course
  • Small Passenger Vessels