South Africans needed to embrace tis democracy and respect it as well as share it with others, acting director general of the Department of Public Enterprises, Matsietsi Mokholo, told VIPs and graduates attending the Maritime School of Excellence graduation in the port of Durban today.

She not only added her voice to protests against recent xenophobic attacks in Durban, but said that students from across Africa needed to be afforded the same rights as those from South Africa. She said the overall goal was to make the Maritime School of Excellence the leading maritime training facility in Africa.

African students no longer needed to attend maritime training schools in Amsterdam or other European centres, she said.

There were eight Namibian graduates among the 115 graduates that celebrated the completion of their training. They were trained as Master Port Operators on behalf of the Namibian Ports Authority.

Transnet has also assisted with training people from Malawi, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and even India. South Africa also has agreements in place with port authorities in Mozambique and the Reunion Islands.

This is the second graduation ceremony to be held by the Maritime School of Excellence which is a merger of the School of Ports and the School of Port Operations.  All of the qualifications received by the 115 graduates are internationally recognised.

Graduates included 13 marine pilots, 21 tug masters, three chief engineers, nine engineering technicians, 16 master port operators and 36 operators who will operate ship-to-shore cranes, rubber tyred gantry cranes and straddle carriers. 

Newly appointed Transnet Group CEO, Siyabonga Gama, said that, as part of Transnet’s market demand strategy, the parastatal had committed to spending at least R7.7-billion on training. This included R4.7-billion which would be spent on bursaries. He said R2-billion had already been spent across all business units over the past two years.