A ship called the Naham No 4, which flies the Omani flag, will not be allowed to leave Table Bay Harbour after the Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFU) secured an 11th hour Western Cape High Court application to attach the vessel.
A Weekend Argus report says suspicions are that the vessel is stolen, and has been fishing illegally in South Africa’s exclusive economic zone. Owned by Muscat-based Al-Naham, the vessel has been investigated by the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. Last month a charge sheet formulated by the Western Cape Directorate of Public Prosecutions was sent to attorneys representing Al-Naham and its agent, Trade Ocean Shipping Service. It cites Al-Naham and its representatives as accused, and lists seven charges related to alleged contraventions of the Marine Living Resources Act and Indian Ocean Tuna Commission regulations. The report says these include: Entering the South African exclusive economic zone without a permit; failure to produce a fishing logbook on demand; failure to have original licences and permits on board; failure to produce up-to-date descriptions of the layout of the vessel; failure to produce a certificate from the flag state describing the nature of modifications; furnishing false or misleading particulars. Marine conservation inspector Buyekezwa Polo said in an affidavit she suspected the vessel was stolen property, and was not authorised to enter or fish in the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission area. An estimated 148 tons of fish aboard the vessel, valued at R5.6m, was therefore the proceeds of unlawful activity, she said, according to the report.