2 May 2020
London. UK. International vetting organisation, RightShip and industry partner to Human Rights at Sea, have responded decisively to the ongoing investigation by the South Africa Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) and local police into the attempted murder of two Tanzanian stowaways by the crew of the Panamanian flagged dry bulk carrier, the MV Top Grace (IMO: 9763875) on the 28 March 2020. Hong Kong-based Fairweather Steamship Co Ltd who manages the fleet of five vessels has had its ratings cut by RightShip and placed on the high risk list in response to the incident.
According to SAMSA, the stowaways who are Tanzanian nationals, climbed mooring ropes while the vessel was alongside in Maydon Wharf, Durban on 23 March and hid in the chain locker before being later discovered by the crew and thrown overboard with a make-shift raft, life jackets and bottles of water. The men were apparently at sea for two days before coming ashore at Zinkwazi beach on the North Coast of Kwa-Zulu Natal.
The seven crew, which included the ship’s Master, Chief Officer, Third Officer, Chief Engineer, First Engineer, Second Engineer and Bosun, were arrested and charged with attempted murder before being released on bail.
In an online statement, the Authority said: “SAMSA has also conducted its own investigation and has shared such with the SAPS to assist with their ongoing investigation. SAMSA would like to warn vessels sailing through its territorial waters that any vessels found to have transgressed South Africa’s national laws, will be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law.”
“The South African Maritime Safety Authority will continue to monitor all vessels calling at South African Ports or sailing through its territorial waters to ensure that its mandate of protecting the marine environment from pollution and saving lives and property at sea. SAMSA implores all vessels and ship managers to act responsibly during this period of uncertainty.”
“SAMSA would like to thank the South African Police Services, National Prosecuting Authority and all other parties involved, whose selfless action and dedication to protect South Africa’s coastline during the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown period has shown the true spirit of Ubuntu.”
Martin Crawford-Brunt, CEO, RightShip, said: “The Top Grace stowaway incident is deeply concerning and a serious contravention of international maritime law. The clearly inhumane actions of the captain and crew in this incident are a stark reminder of the importance of following our maritime legal structures and convention.
The seriousness of this case will result in us not providing any further positive recommendation as part of our vetting process. We trust this action will prompt the managers to conduct a proper root cause analysis to ensure that robust processes and systems are introduced to ensure that a similar act which disregards basic human rights is never repeated.”
David Hammond, Founder and CEO, Human Rights at Sea, added: “One of the fundamental principles of international human rights law is our shared responsibility to each other and in this case the right to life, liberty and the security of person. This shocking contravention of the principle and the decisive actions by RightShip should be a reminder for the whole industry about how we lawfully conduct ourselves to others at all times, whatever the circumstances at sea.”
RightShip has written to Fairweather Steamship Co Ltd to inform them that they have now been placed on the high risk list, and has requested an immediate reply.