Dr Vishal Surbun

Dr Vishal Surbun
Senior Lecturer & Deputy Academic Leader: Research and Higher Degrees
Howard College
HC Building – Suite H, 1st Floor


Dr. Vishal Surbun is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Law and the Unit for Maritime Law and Maritime Studies. He has lectured the Maritime Law module on the LL.B programme for the past decade. This is one of the most popular elective modules and has been a nursery for students to develop an interest in maritime law, some of whom progress to read for postgraduate qualifications in Maritime Law and practise in this specialist field. He is a founding faculty member of the Unit for Maritime Law and Maritime Studies and he supervised the Unit’s first graduates. He facilitates the Incidents of Navigation module on the LL.M program in Maritime Law with seminars on: Shipwreck, salvage, ship collisions, courts of marine enquiry, maritime safety and security and places of refuge for ships in distress. He supervises LL.M and Ph.D students of the Unit.

His research interest lies in the field of the Law of the Sea, particularly maritime jurisdiction, maritime security and African regional maritime policy. Vishal has acted as an expert peer reviewer for the South African Law Journal, The South African Yearbook of International Law and for publications of the Institute for Security Studies and the CSIR. He is also a regular external examiner for Maritime Law and the Law of the Sea related postgraduate programs of the University of Cape Town, Nelson Mandela University and the University of Pretoria.

Academic qualifications

  • LLB (Natal)
  • LLM (Maritime Law) (UKZN)
  • PhD (UKZN)
  • Thesis: ‘Piracy jure gentium in territorial seas: a perspective from the East African seaboard’ (2018)
  • Link to full-text download: click here (open access).

Professional qualification

  • Attorney of the High Court of South Africa
  • Notary Public of the High Court of South Africa

Membership of Professional & Other Organisations


  • The Legal Practice Council (formerly a member of the KwaZulu-Natal Law Society)
  • The Maritime Law Association of South Africa
  • The Society of Law Teachers of Southern Africa


  • The Commonwealth Legal Education Association
  • The Indian Ocean Rim Association Academic Group


  • ‘Africa’s combined exclusive maritime zone concept’ (February 2021) 32 Institute for Security Studies Africa Report 1-20.
  • Charting South Africa’s global maritime foreign policy and its global and regional memberships in the maritime realm’ (2019) 47(2) Scientia Militaria: South African Journal of Military Studies 19-51.
  • ‘The Regulation of Offshore Seismic Surveys in South Africa’s Maritime Realm’ (2016) 2 South African Journal of Environmental Law and Policy 129-157.
  • ‘Shifting Sand and Shifting Jurisdiction: Sea Level Change and its Implications for Maritime Sovereignty in Southern Africa’ (2015) South African Yearbook of International Law 263-280.

Supervised Students

  • Sinduja Bhana ‘A critical analysis of the legal framework to deter illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing in South Africa’s maritime zones’ (2020).
  • Sibusisiwe Nothando Mthembu ‘Navigating the complex maritime cyber regime: a review of the international and domestic regulatory framework on maritime cyber security’ (2019) .
  • Theone Theodorou ‘Security on board energy carrying vessels: an analysis of international and regional regulatory measures.’ (2018).
  • Thuthukani Ncanini ‘A critical analysis of the effectiveness of the regulatory regime under the Polar Code and its application to the South African National Antarctic Programme.’ (2018).
  • Sharkirah Khan ‘Irregular migration across the Mediterranean Sea: an analysis of safety and security regulatory measures.’ (2018).
  • Kyra Guy ‘Sea-level rise and ambulating maritime zones: an analysis of the legal implications for coastal and island states.’ (2017).
  • Courtois, Gareth ‘Piracy and privately contracted armed security personnel: a comparative analysis of the global response to the deployment of armed guards on board merchant vessels and South Africa’s policy as a port and coastal state.’ (2014).
  • Ramsakkan, Yinita ‘The regulation of the removal of hazardous shipwrecks in South African waters and a discussion on the adoption of the Nairobi International Convention on the Removal of Wrecks, 2007.’ (2013).
  • Rohini Pillay ‘Maritime piracy: a critical analysis of current prosecutorial challenges and shortcomings of international and domestic law.’ (2012).
  • Sharmila Naidoo ‘A comparative analysis of ballast water regimes with reference to South Africa’s domestic legislation’ (2012).
  • Amy Dedekind ‘A review of measures to combat illicit drug trafficking and trade: a domestic maritime perspective’ (2012).