Constitution of The South African Historical Wreck Society (SAHWS)
(Hereinafter the Society)

1.0 AIMS
The aims of the Society are:

  • 1.1 To create an open, non-partisan forum for all individuals and parties interested in historical shipwrecks (shipwrecks dating to before 1950) and salvage in the Republic of South Africa.

  • 1.2 To represent the opinions and interests of members in dialogue with the institutions of the state and civil society in all matters concerning shipwreck and salvage.

  • 1.3 To harmonize relations among members and establish protocols, insofar as is practicable, for Salvors to function as a self-regulating group on the basis of voluntarism and consensus.


  • 2.1 Subject to the rules embodied in this constitution, membership of the society shall be open to any person who supports the aims of the Society and endorses the Code of Conduct which is an Appendix to this Constitution.

  • 2.2 Application for membership of the society shall be submitted in a manner and form as determined from time to time by the executive committee.

  • 2.3 There shall be two classes of membership: Active Membership for those who are actively engaged in salvage and Associate Membership for those who are merely interested in shipwrecks and salvage.

  • 2.3 Membership fees for the two classes of membership shall be determined by The Executive Committee from time to time.


  • 3.1 Members shall be obliged to abide by the terms of this Constitution and comply with the Code of Conduct.

  • 3.2 Members have the right to exercise their votes during elections to the executive committee at the annual general meeting of the Society and express their opinions and vote on constitutional amendments and other matters raised at special general meetings as provided for in section 9 and 10 below.

  • 3.3 Members have the right to be kept informed by electronic mail of any information passed on to the executive committee which has bearing on the interests and activities of the Society.

  • 3.4 Members shall be entitled to the endorsement by the Society of their applications to S.A.H.R.A. for permits to excavate shipwrecks; provided that such endorsements will be given only to paid up members in good standing.

  • 3.5 Members have the right to approach the executive committee and propose a course of action in any matter affecting the interests of the Society and its membership,

  • 3.6 Members have the right to request that the executive committee intervene in any dispute among members of the Society resulting from a breach of the Code of Conduct.


  • The business of the society will be conducted in English.


  • The headquarters of the society shall be in Cape Town.


  • 6.1 The executive committee shall consist of the chairman, a vice-chairman and five other members, including the honorary secretary and honorary treasurer elected by the members at the annual general meeting. A member of the executive committee may hold more than one office.

  • 6.2 Eligibility for election to the executive committee shall be confined to paid-up members of the Society in good standing. The executive committee shall have the power to co-opt additional eligible members, either for a limited period for a specific purpose, or to hold office during its remaining term of office.

  • 6.3 The chairman and members of the executive committee shall hold office until the annual general meeting of the society, when all shall cease to hold office.


  • 7.1 The affairs of the society shall be managed by the executive committee, which shall have power to appoint from its members such sub-committees as it may deem necessary to carry out such tasks as are in its opinion in the interests of the society.

  • 7.2 The executive committee shall have power to open and operate one or more bank or savings accounts, to expend monies in possession of the society and to realize any of the societyís assets. Provided that the executive committee may not make financial commitments beyond the existing cash assets of the Society.

  • 7.3 The executive committee shall have the power and duty to fix subscriptions payable by the members, to convene meetings of the Society, and to make rules regarding the conduct of meetings.

  • 7.4 The executive committee shall have the power to suspend or expel from the society any member who is not in good standing or whose membership is in its opinion not in the best interests of the society.

  • 7.5 The executive committee shall have the right and duty to intervene in disputes among members. It shall do so in response to a written request by at least one of the parties in the dispute. The response of the executive committee in any dispute shall be decided after the convening of a hearing as provided for in section 8 below.

  • 7.6 The executive committee shall have the right to decide whether or not to endorse a memberís application to S.A.H.R.A. for a permit to excavate a wreck; provided that the executive committee may refuse to endorse such an application only if the member concerned is deemed to be not in good standing on account of an unresolved dispute with another member or a breach of the Code of Conduct OR if the executive committee believes that endorsing the application will bring the Society into disrepute.

  • 7.7 The executive committee shall have the right to nominate a member or members of the society to be their official representative(s) and spokesperson(s) when any institution of the state or civil society wishes to engage with the membership as a group.

  • 7.8 The executive committee shall be required when requested to do so to give reasons for any decisions it has made or actions it has taken.


  • 8.1 A hearing will be convened by the executive committee in the event that a written complaint is made against a member alleging non-compliance with the Code of Conduct. Such a complaint may originate from within the membership or from outside of Society membership. The purpose of the hearing is to determine whether a member is in breach of the Code of Conduct, and accordingly whether or not the member is in good standing, and whether or not membership should be suspended or terminated as provided for in 7.4 above.

  • 8.2 When the executive committee has made the decision to proceed with a hearing, it shall consult with the complainant and the defendant in order to set the earliest convenient date; provided that the complainant and defendant shall be given a maximum of 21 days from the receipt of the complaint within which to schedule the hearing

  • 8.3. In the event that either the complainant or the defendant refuse or fail to attend a hearing, the executive committee shall have the right to proceed with the hearing despite such a refusal or failure.

  • 8.4 In the event that urgent action is required before a hearing can take place, the executive committee shall have the right to decide to suspend membership or write a letter warning a member to refrain from certain actions pending the outcome of a hearing.

  • 8.5 The hearing will consist of at least three members of the executive committee, one of whom will act as chairperson. Any member of the executive committee who has a direct interest in the dispute will not be eligible to sit in such a hearing.

  • 8.6 Both complainant and defendant, should they attend, will be allowed to address the hearing, invite legal representatives and witnesses, present evidence to the hearing and respond to questions directed through the chair.

  • 8.7 Once all parties present have been allowed to speak the executive committee members will deliberate in private as to how to act in the matter. Decision will be taken by a majority vote and the affected parties informed as soon as possible but no later than fourteen days after the date of the hearing.


  • 9.1The annual general meeting of the society shall be held once each year on a date decided by the executive committee no later than fifteen months after the preceding annual general meeting. At that meeting the outgoing chairman shall report on the activities of the past year, the honorary treasurerís financial statement shall be presented and the various incoming members of the executive committee shall be elected following nominations received prior to, or at, that meeting.

  • 9.2A special general meeting may be called at any time by the executive committee and shall be called within 21 days of receipt of a requisition in writing signed by not less than 10 members in good standing and stating clearly the reason why the meeting is to be called. No business that is not clearly set out in the notice of meeting shall be conducted at a special general meeting

  • 9.3 The quorum at any general meeting of the society shall be ten, and at an executive committee meeting three.

  • 9.4 All decisions, except as provided in rule 10, shall be on a majority vote of the ordinary members present at a meeting. Voting by proxy shall not be permitted. In the event of a deadlock, the chairman of the meeting shall have a casting vote.


  • No alteration or amendment to this constitution shall be made except by a two-third majority vote of ordinary members in good standing, present and voting at a properly constituted general meeting of the society. Notice of such meeting, setting out the proposed amendments in full, shall have been sent by electronic-mail at least 21 days before the date set for the meeting to the last recorded address of each ordinary member in good standing in Southern Africa.


  • Wherever notification is required in this constitution, notification by electronic-mail at the memberís last recorded address shall be deemed to suffice.


  • The interpretation placed on this constitution or on any by-Laws by the executive committee shall be final and binding.



Members of the S.A.H.W.S shall conduct themselves in accordance with the principles set out below. Applying for membership of the Society implies acceptance of this code and non-compliance with this code may result in a memberís forfeiting ďgood standingĒ in the Society and incurring the negative consequences ensuing from this.

Members of the S.A.H.W.S. undertake:

  • 1. To comply with all of the relevant laws and regulations of the Republic of South Africa in the planning and execution of their activities as divers and salvors.

  • 2. To act in strict accordance with terms and conditions stipulated by S.A.H.R.A. for the issuing and renewal of permits to excavate shipwrecks.

  • 3. To give due attention in the planning and execution of salvage operations to archaeological methodology in respect of the mapping of sites, the collection and reportage of data and the conservation and safekeeping of artifacts.

  • 4. To conduct diving and salvage operations with due regard for human health and safety.

  • 5. To ensure that their activities do not impact negatively on the environment.

  • 6. To respect and uphold in general the rights of other members in respect of permits to excavate shipwrecks issued by S.A.H.R.A. and more specifically;

  • 6.1 Not to undertake diving on any site for which a permit has been issued without first obtaining the express permission of the permit holder to do so and

  • 6.2 To comply with the decision of the permit holder either to give or withhold such permission.

  • 7. Not to engage in any act or omission which could bring the S.A.H.W.S. into disrepute.