SA regulator Warns Against Complacency in War Against ‘Ship Capture’

The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) has called for a single Oceans Security group to combat piracy affecting Indian Ocean Rim countries.

The call comes amid significantly reduced piracy off the coast of Africa over the past year due largely to naval patrols.

Speaking at the conclusion of an International Maritime Organisation workshop in Durban earlier this month, SAMSA legal and regulations head Boetse Ramahlo said continued success in the battle against piracy required increased international cooperation. He said this entailed more efficient use of scarce resources to avoid bureaucratic ‘duplication’ of safety and security programmes. Currently 11 African countries including South Africa are signatories to both the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) and the IMO Djibouti Code of Conduct (DCoC), both of which have binding obligations in terms of anti-piracy measures. South African currently provides anti-piracy patrols in the Mozambican Channel under Operation Copper, which was recently extended for another year by President Cyril Ramaphosa. South Africa is also due to sign the Jeddah Amendment to the DCoC, which binds nations to cooperate against various maritime crimes, not just piracy.

Ramahlo said African countries needed a single coordinated anti-piracy effort in order to become more effective and ensure there was no piracy resurgence: ““As South Africa, we are members of both (IORA and DCoC). As functionaries of government, the question now asked by authorities is why this situation is prevailing where member states of these two groups work in isolation,” Ramahlo said.

“We are hard pressed to explain why there is this duplication,” he said, adding that closer collaboration was essential. “One of the most important principles in the Djibouti Code of Conduct (2009) and its Jeddah Amendment (2017) is the importance of involvement of international support as given the nature and complexity of piracy, no single country can amass the vast resources needed to wage a successful fight against crimes affecting shipping.

“The illegal activities we are out to combat are transnational, and for us to be able to fight them we need regional and international cooperation,” Ramahlo said.

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