Vital East-African navy base reopens to fight piracy
7 March 2012 Leave a comment
The SA defence minister plans to reopen Salisbury Island Naval Base in Durban harbour – which is the African East Coast’s most vital naval defence base. SA was asked to reopen the base at a naval-security conference: SA also signed an Indian-ocean coastal defence-pact with Tanzania and Mozambique.
March 7 2012: In November last year. worried authorities in the Seychelles islands rang the international alarm bell. They warned that the entire African east coast was under increasing threat from well-funded, sophisticated Somali pirate-gangs: the feared gangs have invaded the small island group and are using its many vulcanic atols from which to mount attacks on merchant shipping. Another added advantage for the piracy-gangs negotiating their multi-million dollar ransoms, is that the Seychelles has modern, international banking facilities and communications facilities.
Yet at the moment, the South African naval headquarters is located in far-away Simon’s Town along the West Coast near Cape Town. This happened after the ANC-regime closed down its all-important Salisbury Island Naval Base in Durban to ‘cut costs’.
This stupid decision was taken despite the fact that right at SA’s doorstep, international naval forces have been waging increasingly fierce and costly fights against the sophisticated Somali pirates throughout this Indian Ocean region. Indeed two working-class South African crew members, captured by pirates enroute to Richard’s Bay in a yacht in Oct 2010, are still languishing in captivity in Mogadishu. The fight against piracy thus was brought right into South Africa two years ago…
Above: The growing piracy-threat to the vital international north-south shipping trade route through the Suez canal and the African east coast is forcing thousands of ships to reroute around the West Coast and round the Cape of Good Hope: a much longer, costlier route. But new plans are afoot which will dramatically increase the traffic of the lumbering oil-tankers which are attacked the most by Somali pirates: Mozambique plans to build a new oil-tanker harbour just 20km north of the South African border: the Ponto Technobanine plan involves digging a deep-water port in the middle of the Maputo Elephant Reserve. And it’s these slower, lumbering oil-tankers which the pirates target the most: as they can demand the highest ransom from merchants for the costly oil-contents as well as for the crews. This new harbour would undoubtedly dramatically increase Somali piracy-activities, physically bringing them only 20km from the SA coastline…
However, despite the constant dangers from these well-organised piracy-networks, the ANC-regime nevertheless decided a while ago to close down the country’s most vital East Coast naval base: Salisbury Island naval base in Durban, ‘as a cost-cutting exercise.’
The fact that two white, Christian South African crew-members, Bruno Pelizzari and Deborah Calitz, both Afrikaans-speakers, were kidnapped enroute to Richard’s Bay in Oct 2010 on a yacht of which the captain was rescued by pursuing Dutch naval vessels, and that this couple is still being held for ransom in the piracy hellhole of Mogadishu – apparently did not worry the SA Ministry of Defence in the least in deciding to close down Salisbury Island naval base. The regime has also shown little to no interest in obtaining their release: leaving the ‘negotiations’ and ‘fund-raising’ to the empoverished family members in Boksburg.
South Africa’s vital food-imports and its mineral-exports all endangered:
Despite this very obvious threat to all merchant-shipping – which obviously requires a hands-on, very active naval presence along the entire SA east coast — the South African naval coastal-defence headquarters were nevertheless moved to Simon’s Town at the Cape of Good Hope – on the West coast.
This shock-decision has left the routes to the most vital harbours in South Africa vulnerable and unprotected from piracy attacks, endangered the country’s vital shipping routes which includes the coal-export harbour of Richard’s Bay — so important for Japan and China’s coal-supplies – as well as the food- and oil-import harbours of Durban, East London and Port Elizabeth.
Without these harbours, South Africa ‘s food-prices in the most populated provinces in the interior would soar even more: pockets of famine could even emerge and spread rapidly if these food supplies were interrupted even briefly for its 50-million residents: South Africa increasingly relies on imported food from off-continent and requires this food to help feed at least 15-million poor blacks who now rely on daily food-handsouts from the regime. If the piracy threats continue to mount, shipping companies, insurance companies and foreign merchants would be forced to ship everything through Cape Town harbour and have all these essential important goods and food transported northwards at a huge cost increase and a massive strain on its overstretched transportation systems. South Africa in 1994 still was a major food-exporter because of its thriving mostly Afrikaans-speaking agricultural community: however by 2010, SA was already a major food-importer; with thousands of commercial Afrikaans-speaking farmers being murdered, and also being forced to sell their land to the State.
Local food production in SA dropped dramatically since 1994 and their food-imports soared:
However on 7 Feb 2012, SA defence minister Lindiwe Sisulu claimed in that she was “considering re-opening the mothballed SA naval base on Salisbury Island in the Durban harbour”. She announced this after South Africa signed a mutual Indian-ocean defence pact with Tanzania and Mozambique. The aim was, she noted, to ‘secure the territorial waters while ensuring the free flow of goods for economic development of the SADC and African continent as a whole.” The SANDF had just hosted the SADC standing maritime committee meeting in Durban. At this summit, it was proposed that ‘perhaps we should move our (naval) operations to the island of Salisbury. The [earlier] decision that we had taken was that we were going to reopen our bases in Durban.”
‘ South Africa is safe ’, boasts vice-admiral Johannes Mudimu…
She invertently also admitted that her regime had made a very costly mistake indeed by closing down this vital naval base: saying that “the main problem we are experiencing right now is the Indian Ocean, and it will not make sense to be operating from Simon’s Town to try and deter piracy in the Indian Ocean.”
Yet just a few weeks ago, South Africa’s vice-admiral Johannes Mudimu was still boasting that ‘South Africa was safe: the government has the necessary assets and human personnel to protect the surrounding territories.”
Somali piracy costs were some $7 billion in 2011 alone:
The small vulcanic island state of the Seychelles, with its crystal waters and pristine beaches, lies in an area of the Indian Ocean which is greatly endangered by piracy. It’s hard-working coast guard tries hard to protect ships which are coming under frequent attack. Coast guard chief George Adeline told AFP: “The Seychelles coast guard by itself cannot make the waters safe, we need to combine forces. If we manage to bring everybody on board I think our fight against piracy will be simpler.” “We really need our international partners to help out,” he said.
The US military units of Africom started their active fight against Somali piracy in East-African countries by training African soldiers from 2008:
Meanwhile the United States government has also announced on March 5 2012 that it is going ahead with the controversial plans — in cooperation ‘with its Mozambican partners’ — to build a new oil-tanker harbour only 20km north of the KwaZulu-Natal border: which will be located in one of the most pristine wilderness conservation areas in the world.
The R54-b Ponto Technobanine plan involves digging a deep-water port in the middle of the Maputo Elephant Reserve and neighbouring Ponta do Ouro marine reserve and running a 1,100km railway through the centre of the newly-proclaimed elephant migration corridor to South Africa. The designers of the port say “ the site is suited for docking large oil tankers and cargo ships because of the steep profile of the coastline”. However conservation experts warned that the plan will destroy the current tri-nation Lubombo transfrontier conservation project – which was signed ten years ago. The Mozambique government has already gazetted the boundaries of the 30,000 hectare harbour and industrial zone around Ponto Technobanine. http://www.bizcommunity.com/Article/196/523/64768.html
March 6 20-12 – THE first day of the Bheki Cele inquiry heard that the controversial R1.67-billion police headquarters deal was fast-tracked “on assumption rather than instructions”. SAPS genl Hamilton Hlela – who claims that he was forced to resign by Cele — gave testimony yesterday as a star-witness to back up Public Protector Mrs Thuli Madonsela’s damning reports into these lease deals. Her investigation led to President Jacob Zuma suspending the SA police commissioner Cele in October last year and the establishing the current board of inquiry.
Yesterday, Hlela testified. The enquiry is chaired by judge Jake Moloi at the Pretoria Council Chambers in Pretoria, that Hlela ‘had made certain procurement decisions regarding the lease deals involving the Middestad building in Pretoria and the Transnet building in Durban — “on the assumption that Cele wanted those specific buildings: allegedly Hlela had earlier claimed that “Cele had identified the “Middestad” building, introduced him to “property mogul” Roux Shabangu and instructed him to “fast-track the procurement of the buildings.” However yesterday’s testimony revealed that ‘Cele did not specifically mention the Middestad building as the preferred building to house the police top brass, nor did he instruct him to pursue a negotiated form of procurement which led to the buildings being leased at inflated rates. Instead, Cele had mentioned that ‘a building in central Pretoria had two floors which could be leased’. Genl. Hlela resigned from the police in 2010: claiming he had been forced to do so by Cele.
Lawless cops cost SAPS over R106m a year
Nov 28 2011 – Sowetan: Taxpayers to fork out R1.3m for Cele salary – and Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa has issued a stern warning about the ongoing lawsuits against “lawless police officers”.
He said the “command, control and upholding of the constitutional principles should be intensified. Senior police management should immediately begin to tighten enforcement to curb lawlessness among officers.
“A total of R106239616.81 was paid in legal costs as a result of 8074 civil claims brought against the SAPS for the 2010-11 financial year.
An amount of R87.2-million was paid in lawsuits for false arrests, assaults and shootings during the 2009/2010 financial year. Payment of legal costs is not linked to a particular police station, but if an officer is sued for whatever act of misconduct, it is the state that suffers financially and we cannot allow such things to become the norm,” Mthethwa said.
He said he believed that with stricter monitoring of police members’ conduct there could be fewer lawsuits.
“Instead of paying legal costs, such amounts could be better utilised in other crucial programmes of the SAPS, including the building of new police stations in areas previously neglected,” he said.
Mthethwa faces another lawsuit of R5-million from President Jacob Zuma’s adviser Zizi Kodwa.
On Monday, Kodwa’s lawyer, Gugulethu Madlanga, served papers on Mthethwa notifying him that Kodwa, whose real names are Ncediso Goodenough, intended suing.
Yesterday, Madlanga described the police’s inaction to release Kodwa’s blood sample results as “upsetting”.
“I was expecting their response by Monday afternoon but I haven’t received it,” Madlanga said.
Gauteng police spokesman Colonel Katlego Mogale said his department was looking into the matter. Kodwa was arrested by two officers for suspected drunken driving on Sturdee Avenue in Rosebank, Johannesburg, about two weeks ago.
He appeared briefly in the Hillbrow Magistrate’s Court and his case was postponed to March next year.
Dodgy land deal costs council – THE Mahikeng local municipality has lost more than R57-million in a dodgy land development deal during the last financial year, Auditor-General Terrance Nombembe has confirmed.
Land scandal haunts Mpumalanga – Company buys land for R700,000 and sells it for a whopping R2.3 million