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The True Wealth of Family: A Story of Success at Damen Shipyards Cape Town

Published December 27, 2023
7 months ago

In the bustling environment of Damen Shipyards Cape Town (DSCT), there is an inspiring narrative that captures the essence of familial wealth woven into the fabric of professional achievements. It's the story of Zakeer Khan, a mechanical engineer and project manager, who refers to himself as the richest man within the shipyard's expansive grounds. But it's not the compensation or the perks of his career spanning 15 years that enrich his life. Rather, it's the presence of his kin – his two sons, Zuhair (26) and Azhar (24) – both of whom are following in his engineering footsteps, building state-of-the-art naval vessels for South Africa.

DSCT, a shipbuilding powerhouse known for constructing over 40 vessels for various African nations, regards itself not merely as a manufacturer of ships but as a propelling force for the South African Maritime Blue Oceans Economy. By fostering skill development and enhancing job prospects through educational schemes such as internships and apprenticeships, the company desires to anchor itself as the employer of choice within the South African shipbuilding industry.

In a recent development, DSCT delivered the SAS KING SHAKA ZULU, an illustrious project under the company's belt. As a part of Project Biro, this venture underscores DSCT's commitment to local employment, generating over one million man-hours of work, sustaining over 1,000 direct jobs, and indirectly supporting nearly 4,000 individuals. The project is a landmark achievement, not just for DSCT and the Khan family but for South Africa's self-reliance in maritime capabilities.

Zuhair and Azhar, working on mechanical fittings and as a fitter and turner apprentice respectively, have become key players in the shipbuilding process. Their contributions to the delivery of the multi-mission inshore patrol vessels (MMIPVs) for the South African Navy under Project Biro resonate with Zakeer's sentiment of immeasurable wealth. Zuhair finds his dreams realized in the tangible act of ship creation, choosing to be a builder of dreams rather than a passive dreamer. Azhar, initially enamored with horticulture, found his calling in engineering through the guidance and inspiration of his father.

Outside the professional sphere, the Khans share a love for cycling, a hobby that complements their ethos of togetherness. Zakeer, having completed a challenging cycle race, finds in this a metaphor for the persistence and endurance embodied both in his family and their work.

DSCT's core values – Fellowship, Craftsmanship, Stewardship, and Entrepreneurship – resonate profoundly with the Khan narrative. Together, they are not just constructing formidable vessels but crafting a family legacy underpinned by unity, craft, and mutual growth.

As Zakeer walks through the shipyard, shoulder-to-shoulder with his sons, the pride he feels is akin to that of a captain steering a formidable ship – a ship built with the bonds of family, mentorship, and collective success. To him, this is the true definition of wealth, a sentiment echoed on the docks and beyond.

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