Piracy has reached SA seas
18 January 2011 2 Comments
- Warns en Coetzee, senior researcher at the Arms Management Programme, Institute for Security Studies:
- ‘ All Southern African countries including landlocked ones, will have to commit personnel and resources and start patrolling these threatened coastlines if the region is to succeed in its continued struggle to feed its growing population… ‘
Pretoria: ‘ Pirates have reached Southern African seas. The European Union Naval Force Somalia documents two confirmed piracy-attacks off the Southern African coastline: a Taiwanese fishing vessel on 25 December 2010 northeast of Madagascar; and a Mozambican fishing vessel was also spotted being towed by a pirate skiff towards the Comoros islands…” warns senior researcher Ben Coetzee of the Institute for Security Studies. The all-important food-shipments to keep southern Africa ‘s population fed, are being seriously compromised by the sophisticated, multi-billion dollar Somalian piracy industry.
Coetzee failed to mention the Oct 26 2010 pirating of the South African-owned yacht Choizil off the Tanzanian coast enroute to its SA home-harbour of Richards Bay – the pirated yacht was followed by a naval vessel from the EU-anti-piracy taskforce. Choizil’s skipper Peter Eldridge of Durban refused to leave his ship and was rescued. However his (financially not well-off) crew-members, Durbanites Bruno Pelizzari and Deborah Calitz, (pictures) were dragged off the stranded yacht by the Somali pirates and now are said to be in captivity in Mogadishu, Somalia while ‘a ransom is being negotiated with the SA government’…
Food-shipments to Southern Africa seriously compromised by piracy:
Coetzee warns that South Africa and its neighbours, ‘including landlocked countries, will have to urgently invest in more resources and personnel to patrol their all-important shipping lanes, if Southern Africa is to (… ) succeed in its continued struggle to feed its growing population.”
He did note that there were two more failed attacks by pirates close to the port of Beira in Mozambique – on 24 and 25 Dec 2010 – as recorded by the news media. “It is unable to ascertain how many attacks remain unreported,’he warns.
‘ Tourist- and fishing vessels targetted near unpatrolled Mozambique Channel ‘:
“Southern African waters are increasingly becoming an attractive alternative to Somali pirates who realised that there is worthwhile prey waiting to be exploited. The prey consists of numerous recreational and commercial vessels. These unarmed vessels either travel to tourist destinations in the Seychelles, the Comoros, Mauritius, Madagascar, Mozambique and South Africa, or to fishing grounds close to the Mozambique Channel. It is also becoming an alternative route for companies wishing to avoid the pirate infested route around the horn of Africa by taking the longer and more hazardous route via the Cape of Good Hope.
“These waters do not fall within the region normally patrolled by the international anti-pirate forces. And the South Africa navy and its counterparts in SADC might be able to do short tours in the Mozambique channel for a limited time, but the continuous monitoring of the channel will not be possible within current resource and personnel allocations….”
It’s not only Somalian pirate gangs which are making the Indian Ocean harbours of Southern Africa increasingly dangerous for Westerners: in 2010, unprecedented attacks have also been recorded on fishing- and sailing boats in the coastal islands of Madagascar, together with attacks on Western-run and -frequented tourist lodges: for instance the tiny holiday atol of Ile Aux Nattes off the northeast-coast of Madagascar Island, was attacked on June 11 2010: its Afrikaner-owners Gareth and Hannetjie Walters, above, were murdered. In 2010, a total of 5 Westerners were murdered in this Indian-Ocean region, which relies heavily on tourism for its income.
“The perception of landlocked countries in Southern Africa that piracy is of no concern to them; also needs to change. Simply because a country is landlocked does not mean they are safe from the impact of piracy. The ripple effect will impact on them as much, if not more than coastal countries. For instance a country may decide to invest in several large naval vessels to protect its territorial waters and the shipping lanes therein from pirate attacks. This action would benefit both the country and the landlocked countries’ harbour’s service. Affected countries will be able to continue exporting their natural resources and manufactured goods while the supply of imported goods and energy resources would continue uninterrupted. The financing of the vessels will however have to be realised from somewhere; the most likely source being from increased customs duties and taxes on goods landed safely in the countries’ ports as well as taxes on exports. The same would apply in cases where countries cannot wait for the ships to be built and increases the number of their airborne platforms to include land based maritime aircraft to patrol their territorial waters.
“The fight against piracy will increasingly impact the whole world as the pirates grow bolder and our shipping routes come increasingly under attack. The current SADC score card in its fight against piracy reads as follows:
* Pirates: two successful attacks.
* Ship Masters: two successful escapes from attacks due to superior speed and good practices.
* SADC naval response: zero.
He concludes: “This has to change if Southern Africa is to maintain its growth path and succeed in its continued struggle to feed its growing population.” http://www.polity.org.za/article/piracy-in-southern-africa-2011-01-17
South African regime actively intervened in the international attempts to stop Somalian piracy by confiscating an arms shipment from Malta via Durban:
* Background – Mozambique Channel
The Mozambique Channel is a portion of the Indian Ocean located between the island of Madagascar and southeast Africa, primarily the country of Mozambique. The channel is approx 460 kilometers across at its narrowest point between Angoche, Mozambique, and Tambohorano, Madagascar. The channel reaches a depth of 3,292 meters (10,800 feet) about 230 kilometers off the coast of Mozambique. A warm current flows in a southward direction in the channel, leading into the Agulhas Current off the east coast of South Africa. It is around 1,000 miles (1600 kilometers) long and the width of it varies from 250-600 miles(400-950 kilometers).