Day of The Seafarer

International Day of the Seafarer 2020

Pretoria: 24 June 2020

On Thursday, 25 June 2020 South Africa joins the international maritime community and world at large in celebrating the international Day of the Seafarers.

This year’s celebration however, occurring in the midst of a global Covid-19 pandemic that has negatively impacted virtually all sectors of society, will be marked remarkedly differently than in other years; through a virtual two-hour conference session involving maritime sector stakeholders and roleplayers to be hosted jointly by the Department of Transport together with its maritime agency, the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA).

Leading the South Africa Day of the Seafarer celebration, as always, will be the Minister of Transport, Mr Fikile Mbalula and alongside who will be SAMSA acting CEO, Mr Sobantu Tilayi.

This year’s International Maritime Organisation (IMO) theme for the marking of the global event is: #Seafarers Are Key Workers – a concept described by IMO General Secretary, Mr Kitak Lim (see image and video below) as illustrating the need for general recognition of the world’s 1.6-million seafarers as ‘essential workers’ not only during the Covid-19 pandemic, but at all times.

For the scheduled proceedings of the day two hour session online Thursday, and which will be streamed live on the SAMSA Facebook page, and later shared on other online platforms, including this blog page, please see below.

As indicated herein elswhere, in addition to the virtual session being livestreamed on the SAMSA Facebook page from 10am to noon, this blog will also later share some of the proceedings’ content, inclusive of the Minister’s remarks as well as contributions by participants.




Marking Day of the Seafarer 2019: In Cape Town, Master Mariner Captain Thembela Tobashe (Oceana) (Right) and Ms Yolisa Tshangela (TNPA) (Second left) welcoming one of dozens of guest attending the Western Cape leg of the event on June 25.

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Pretoria: 30 June 2019

The marking of the international Day of the Seafarer on June 25 in South Africa took the same format as in 2018 – with the country’s three biggest coastal cities; Cape Town, Port Elizabeth and Durban hosting the event simultaneously.

And in similar fashion, this blog followed proceedings at the Cape Town leg of the event on Tuesday while one or two photographers captured pics of the event in the other venues.

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The 2019 Day of the Seafarer logo as a developed and produced by the International Maritime Organisation |(IMO)

That explains upfront the dominance of multi-media reports about the Cape Town proceedings on this page, even though as many pictures of attendees in the two other venues (Durban and Port Elizabeth) are also loaded (or will be) as soon as available.

On proceedings, the format was again the same – welcoming remarks by the hosts, the Department of Transport (Dot) and, or the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), statements by a number of speaker (five for each of the venues were selected this year), an open discussion involving both the presenters as well as those on the floor, and finally, the closing remarks.

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A banner of the 2019 Day of the Seafarer theme as approved by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO)

With this year’s theme (suggested by the International Maritime Organisation) being: “#IamOnBoard – with Gender Equality“, it predictably was going to be an explosive affair and it did, at the Protea Fire & Ice Hotel in Cape Town at least, as women participants took the opportunity with both hands to lay bare the numerous challenges women face in the sector.

By design, the panel in Cape Town was made up of only women just as the floor found domination by females coming from a range of occupations in the maritime sector including seafarers, educationists, professionals, administrators as well as youth either currently in training or engaged in one or another activity in the sector.

The panellists (in order of their presentations) were DoT’s Ms Lindiwe Mawowa (who also directed proceedings), Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) Ms Yolisa Tshangela, Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT lecturer Ms Leonie Louw, fishing group Oceana’s Ms Thembela Taboshe, SAMSA’s Ms Emina Dzimic, shipping group Amsol’s Ms Clare Gomes, and young activist and business professional, Ms Faye Kula.

Guests milling around at the conference hall of this year’s celebration of the Day of the Seafarer in Cape Town

Officiating was DoT’s Maritime Transport directorate acting Deputy Director-General, Mr Dumisani Ntuli who also presented an overview and contextualisation of the Day of the Seafarer event in both South Africa and internationally.

A line of the all female speakers that addressed attendees and participated in discussions during this year’s observation of the Day of the Seafarer in Cape Town.

Major issues to emerge during the discussion under the IMO theme for this year’s celebration of the Day of the Seafarer (#IamOnBoardwith Gender Equality) included loosely that:

  • there is an urgent need for recognition that gender is not about just men and women
  • women in maritime but particularly those serving as seafarers still find themselves engulfed by a culture in which they are treated either as sexual objects, alternatively as inferior partners to men as a result of which terms of engagement, inclusive of employment, remuneration and career development remain lopsided in favour men
  • ships equipment, tooling and facilities remain largely male oriented in design and positioning
  • women empowerment is an imperative as a catalyst to equality among genders and fair treatment of all – remarks in this regard citing both the International Labour Organisation, the IMO and others as instruments for progress.
  • a need for women in particularly to galvanise their campaign through women focused and dedicated organization,
  • Specific to South Africa:
    • a strong and immediate need for mentorship of particularly young cadets and others receiving education and training in the sector.
    • an urgent need for establishment of a facility to register, maintain and offer assistance to young cadets entering the service as well as those already serving as seafarers

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Below is a list of the presentations by the respective panellists at the event in Cape Town, led by Ms Mawowa and Mr Ntuli.

Opening Remarks:

Ms Lindiwe Mawowa. Department of Transport

Empowering women can no longer remain a rhetorical philosophical notion

Welcoming Remarks:

Mr Dumisani Ntuli. Acting Deputy Director General. Maritime Transport Directorate: Department of Transport

Time for talking is over!

Panelist One:

Ms Yolisa Tshangela. Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA)

We are not seeking favours. We just want an equal opportunity

Panelist Two:

Ms Leonie Louw. Cape Pensinsula University of Technology

Both SAMSA and IMO laws and conventions must match action on the ground

Panellist Three:

Ms (Capt.) Thembela Taboshe. Executive: Oceana

Seafaring is romanticized and women are treated as sexual objects. That must end!

Panelist Four:

Ms Emina Dzimic. Naval Architect: South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA)

Women empowerment across the maritime sector is an imperative to equality and fair treatment of all, across genders!

Panelist Five:

Ms Clare Gomes. Amsol

Strong economic growth is a key instrument to enabling the level of the playing field.

Panelist Six:

Ms Faye Kula. Founder: Cadet Training Initiatives

Mentorship and dedicated support to young seafarers both at sea and in training is a must.

Following to the presentation, both the panellists and people on the floor engaged in a discussion of both the issues as well as other matters of concern and interest.

Parts of that discussion were captured as shall be shared here as soon editing is finalised in a day or so.

Meanwhile in Durban, a video wrap and photos have emerged of a vibrant atmosphere that characterized the enjoyment but also the seriousness of the marking of the Day of the Seafarer by those that attended.

With regards the photos and due to their number, we’ve bundled together into a slideshow for your view and enjoyment.

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UPDATED: 04 July 2018 with new multi media content!

SA Agulhas cake

Pretoria: 04 July 2018

Observation of the Day of the Seafarer 2018 in South Africa on Monday a week ago (25 June) was a spectacular success in more ways that one.

The observation not only took place in three major coastal cities simultaneously for the first time ever in the eight year history of the event, but more stakeholders in the maritime sectors directly concerned with the development and management of seafarers, as well as seafarers themselves, got involved in what could be described as the first focused discussion centred on the welfare of seafarers.


The Seafarers Day 2018, an initiative of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) was observed in Durban, Port Elizabeth and Cape Town, all events marked by the participation of stakeholders across the board.
In Port Elizabeth, the event was especially marked by the unveiling of the South African International Maritime Institute (SAIMI) new permanent home at the Nelson Mandela University main campus south-east of the Indian Ocean city.

A NEW HOME: Professor Malek Pourzanjani, CEO of the South African International Maritime Institute (SAIMI) with the institution’s recently appointed Operations Director, Ms Soraya Artman during the unveiling of SAIMI’s new headquarters located at the Nelson Mandela University’s Summerstrand campus in Port Elizabeth as part of celebrating Day of the Seafarers 2018 on Monday 25 June,

Precisely, the new headquarters are located at the Ocean Sciences Campus of Nelson Mandela University in Summerstrand and according to SAIMI chief executive officer Prof Malek Pourzanjani, the occasion marked a critical turning point in the life of the young institutions.

“We are thrilled to be operating from our first permanent ‘home port’,” said Prof Pourzanjani, adding: “But this is just the beginning for us, with our eventual aim being to have a presence in all South Africa’s coastal cities. In fact, there is already a satellite office at the Royal Cape Yacht Club in Cape Town, with a Durban branch in the pipeline.

“This planned expansion will position us well to ensure that we continue to play a vital role in South Africa’s oceans economy,” he said.

OBSERVING SEAFARERS DAY 2018: In Cape Town, standing in the centre (with a hat on) Department of Transport acting Director General for Maritime. Mr Dumisani Ntuli with some of the South African seafarers attending this year’s Safarers’ Day observation.

In Cape Town, a leg of the event this blog followed closely and captured the proceedings in a multi-media format, representatives of relevant stakeholders included government through the Department of Transport, the South African Maritime Safety Authority, the Cape Peninsula University (CPUT), the Society of Marine Masters South Africa, the Sea Safety Training Group, as well as some seafarers employers and others.

TALKING SEAFARERS’ WELL-BEING: Some of South Africa maritime sector training, education and services institution representatives that attended this year’s Day of the Seafarer observation held in Cape Town on Monday, 25 June – one three such events held simultaneously in South Africa for the first time this year. The other events were staged in Port Elizabeth (Eastern Cape Province) and Durban (KwaZulu-Natal Province)

Regarding the main theme for the 2018 Seafarers Day observation internationally: ‘Seafarers’ well-being’, key issues raised and discussed by the various stakeholders included:

  • High unemployment rate of South Africa seafarers
  • The selection process and quality of South African seafarers against the backdrop of both high unemployment as well as a high drop out rate
  • The alignment of seafarers skills development and industry expectations with focus also on the entry of Artificial Intelligence (AI) versus traditional practical training methods such as the use of the SA Agulhas
  • The alignment of seafarers’ qualifications with the country’s general higher education qualification system and crucially
  • The impact of the absence of a South Africa owned shipping fleet on particularly the culture of seafaring in the country
GAINING POINTS: Young ratings training cadets attending the 2018 Day of the Seafarer observation event held in Cape Town.

In response, certain undertakings were made both the Department of Transport, SAMSA and some of the institutions to not only continue to engage on the issues but to also actively find solutions to some of the more urgent challenges as reported previously on this blog’s News page.

These include:

  • An assurance that development of a South African shipping fleet will definitely occur in the next 10 years through coastal (port-to-port) involving not just South Africa but the southern African region
  • The setting up of a task team to further explore the issue of seafarers’ qualifications lack of alignment with the country’s higher education system.
  • The need for the streamlining of the selection process of youths keen on seafaring with a view to ensuring that only those that are prepared actually undergo training.
TAKING NOTES: Some of the seafarers who attended discussions on seafarers’ well-being – this being in the international theme of the 2018 instalment of the international Day of the Seafarer in Cape Town on 25 June

As indicated, this blog (The 10th Province) captured the salient points of the discussion and herein below, are three videos that present the discussions on the day in three sections:

  • Video 1 contains the presentations made by the various parties
  • Video 2 presents the issues raised from the floor
  • Video 3 presents the responses including undertakings made with regards the issues raised.

The approach involving the presentation of the public discussion in the manner is simply to ensure that that these matters are aired and shared as widely as possible with interested stakeholders and in as close a manner and atmosphere as that in which the discussion was held on the day, in order to promote greater awareness and understanding while limiting unintended and undue distortion.

HAVING FUN: Seafarers on board the SA Agulhas on Day of the Seafarer 2018 having a lekker time with a braai

The blog’s hope in doing this, is that the presentation as indicated provides evidence that the observation of the 2018 Day of the Seafarer lived up to its billing and that the well-being of the South African seafarer (as is that of any other seafarer on the country’s waterways) is being focused on and that key issues are being dealt with, with participation of all or most institutions who are held responsible and accountable for their respective roles in the well-being of seafarers.

Have a listen to the discussions held in Cape Town.

Video 1: Presentations (Five presenters: Mr Leon Moutton of the Sea Safety Training Group, Mr Rob Whitehead, President of the Society of Master Mariners SA, Ms Leonne Louw of the Cape Peninsula University of Technology, Mr Dumisani Ntuli, acting Director General: Maritime, Department of Transport and Captain Ravi Naicker of the South African Maritime Safety Authority)
Video 2: Remarks from the Floor (also involving five speakers)
Video 3: Responses to Remarks from the Floor (as per the initial list)

In pictures:

SA Agulhas seafarers do 1
DAY OF THE SEAFARER 2018: Close on 200 seafarers having fun on board the SA Agulhas on Monday, 25 june 2018 in Cape Town

For further videos of interviews with seafarers this blog conducted in the run up to the Day of the Seafarer 2018, please scroll below.


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IMO DosT logo

Pretoria: 18 June 2018

In a week’s time, on Monday 25 June 2016, South Africa along with the international maritime community will be celebrating the international Day of the Seafarer (DotS) and, for the first time, the event will be marked in three cities, Cape Town, Durban and Port Elizabeth simultaneously.

To mark the occasion, and consistent with this year’s International Maritime Organization (IMO) theme for the event, which is focused on seafarers’ welfare, SAMSA’s online platforms inclusive of this blog will publish multi-media news and stories pertaining to the marking of the DotS in South Africa.

To lead the celebration next Monday, beginning on Tuesday (19 June 2018) and for the next seven days through to Monday (25 June), this blog will carry interviews of seafarers talking about their careers, what they like and they do not like about it, but crucially; about how best their welfare as seafarers could be improved.

In a series of interviews under the theme: “In Conversation with Seafarers – In Celebration of Seafarers’ Day 2018”, a total of 10 South African and international seafarers, some young and still climbing the ranks, and others already masters and veterans, shared their experiences, pleasures and pain in videos averaging 15 minutes each.

On each day beginning Tuesday, this blog will carry two of the interviews, the last of these posted on Saturday.

We will endeavor to keep them on this page for the remainder of the month, and possibly a period thereafter.

In Conversation with Seafarers – Marking Seafarers’ Day 2018

By some accounts, sailing is as old as water and to this day, the largest shipment of trade goods across the world is largely dependent on sea transport. Large numbers of seafarers worldwide take on the task of sailing the vessels across seas, some in trade, others in leisure, fishing or conducting research.

South Africa over the last few years has increased the number of its own seafaring crew, bringing on board not only new young blood in numbers but also people of all races as well as both genders.

Spearheading and keeping constantly in touch with the development through both promotion of seafaring but also administrative issues inclusive of certification of seafarers has been the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) along with partners in both the private and public sectors as well as the education sector.

With maritime skills development now also a key priority of government, the recently established South Africa International Maritime Institute (SAIMI) has also come into the fray.

Among seafarers to have benefited from this endeavors is Captain Zamaswazi Shabalala who obtained her Masters ticket in 2017.

She loves seafaring!

This blog had the fortune of being able to speak to her about her seafaring career, now spawning 10 years, as part of this year’s celebration of the Day of the Seafarer.

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Captain Zamaswazi Shabalala

She loves it, along with all its challenges.

Ladies and gentlemen, we bring to you, Captain Shabalala!

(Video interview 1 of 10)

The next video features Captain Roy Garces, a veteran seafarer of more than 20 years and currently the Master of the Umnenga I fuel carrier vessel owned by Greek bunkering group, Aegian, based at the port of Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape, South Africa.

Captain Roy Garces

Captain Garces, a Philippines native, has seen it all at sea and at ports across the world. He loves sailing, which is why he still does it and yet he also has developed a complete distaste of the long periods of loneliness that is a feature of seafaring, such that he says, he would not encourage his own children to follow his footsteps.

The constancy of the ‘steel walls’ are what gets under his skin!

It is best to listen to him……

(Video interview 2 of 10)


In videos 3 and 4 we turn the spotlight to our next set of two seafarers, Ms Sinethemba Hadebe (SA Agulhas) and Mr Lucio de Arce (Umnenga I) for their varied experiences of seafaring, as well as their views on how best the welfare of seafarers could be improved.

First up is Sinethemba:

Second (video 4/10 in the series): Lucio


Videos 5 and 6 feature the third set of seafarers, Mr Rizalino Gerali senior official on board the Umnenga I fuel tanker and Miss Abongile Sobuwa, an open licence pilot at the port of Ngqurha in the Eastern Cape.


Mr Gerali, a Filipino national loves South Africa than any other part of the region for reasons that on the whole, make him a happy seafarer, with just over 20 years of sailing under his belt. He believes that the well-being of seafarers is a serious matter to be constantly focused on and improved where necessary on an ongoing basis.


Ms Sobuwa whose particular occupation as a vessels pilot at South Africa’s only deep water port, Ngqura, some 30km north east of Port Elizabeth is proud that women, have a firm foothold on seafaring, even as gender disparity as well as racism are still strong in the profession.
Listen to them speak…..

(Please note that the following videos will only run from 8am on Thursday)

First up: Miss Sobuwa

and Mr Gerali


In videos 7 and 8 (of 10) the second last batch of two in the series, we feature seafarers Miss Olwethu Mtsewu, another open licence pilot also displaying her vessels’ mastering skills at South Africa’s only deep water port in Port Elizabeth, the Ngqurha Port, along with dredger vessel captain, Mr Nkululeko Makhaye who boasts 18 years of seafaring and currently located at the port of Durban.

It is an understatement that both simply love what they do, staying in command of shipping vessels of any size. It is also true that both, like the rest we have spoken to so far, have firm views on seafarers’ life and the struggles that keep them on their toes.

Captain Makhaye is in it for the long haul, or so he says, but Ms Mtsewu sees a horizon upon which one day she will leave to pursue other aspects of the maritime world. Until then though, she says, she is staying put!

(Please note that the video will be available for viewing at 08h00 (SAST).

Miss Mtsewu:

and Mr Makhaye


(Videos 9&10 of 10): With the last batch of two video interviews in our series of interaction with seafarers to mark the observation of the Day of the Seafarer (DotS) 2018, we feature two equally dynamic seafarers who simply love their type of work and would not give it up for anything else.

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First up is young and upcoming female seafarer and a Second Officer currently plying her trade on board South Africa’s only dedicated cadet training vessel, the SA Agulhas; Miss Zikhona Gwexa.

For her, for now, sailing is her life and she ain’t stopping at nothing until she gets that Master’s certificate. Although young and relatively inexperienced, she has however seen a lot to have an opinion about both what she appreciates about seafaring but also some of the challenges facing their well-being.

Next and last in the 10 interviews is Durban based Mr Thengen Govender, a highly experienced and long serving member of the seafarer brigade worldwide.


Mr Govender sees seafaring as serving an absolutely crucial role in world trade and related, in the most trying of circumstances, marked by long periods of loneliness that can and does affect sailors for long periods of time.

He loves it and yes, while the general upkeep of seafarers welfare is improving by leaps and bounds generally, he feels there are issues that could be improved, particularly perks as relating to specifically, medical health provisions.