Skuld warns on South African stowaways

Skuld P&I Club has reminded Members of the potential for an increase in stowaways trying to gain access to vessels in South African ports during the holiday period, and of the specific rules that apply in South Africa should such a stowaway gain access.

Skuld said that illegal persons in South Africa were perhaps trying to secure their travel home “at substantial costs to the shipowners and P&I Clubs”.

The current ruling in South Africa is that if any unlawful person gains access to a ship in a South African port, the person will automatically be deemed to be a stowaway unless the vessel can provide photographic, video or third party evidence (terminal security) that the stowaway attempted to board the vessel in Durban.

Immigration Authorities are declaring “unwanted guests” found on board a vessel, while the vessel is still in Port, as stowaways. It is the vessel’s responsibility to ensure that nobody enters the vessel illegally.

This means that a ship owner would be liable for the full costs of repatriating the stowaway. Skuld therefore emphasized that it was essential that stowaways do not gain access onto the ship in any way.

Skuld said that it accepted that ship owners were facing tough economic conditions and might be reluctant to incur the cost of hiring security guards, relying instead on the crew to police the ship.