Cruise Ship Crewmember Arrested for Stabbing Elderly Passenger

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Published May 9, 2024 11:10 PM by The Maritime Executive


Federal prosecutors have charged a South African seafarer with assault for allegedly running amok and stabbing three people with a pair of scissors. 

According to the criminal complaint, the crewmember - Ntando Sogoni, 35 - joined the Norwegian Encore at the port of Seattle on Sunday. He had just been hired and it was his first trip. The same evening, his crewmates saw him trying to deploy a lifeboat. They called security guards, who took Sogoni to the ship's medical center for an assessment. At that point he "became irrational and attempted to leave," security staff told the FBI. 

At about 0150 hours on Monday morning, according to charging documents, Sogoni attacked a guard and a male nurse and fled into another exam room, where he encountered a 75-year-old female patient. He allegedly picked up a pair of medical scissors and stabbed her multiple times in the arm, hand and face. Security guards rushed to stop him, and he stabbed two guards as well before he was subdued. None of these injuries were life-threatening. 

Sogoni was taken to the brig and held there until Norwegian Encore reached Juneau. He was arrested by federal authorities on his arrival. 

The assault happened in international waters off the coast of British Columbia, aboard a foreign-flagged ship. However, since the voyage originated in the United States, U.S. domestic law covers criminal activity aboard the vessel (drawing on the federal government's "special maritime and territorial jurisdiction" over voyages to and from American ports).  

Sogoni has been charged with assault with a dangerous weapon under this special-purpose statute. If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each count. 

"We condemn violent behavior of this nature and are committed to the safety and security of all crew members and guests on our ships. We commend the onboard security team for their brave actions," a spokesperson for NCL told The Independent.

The court ordered Sogoni to be detained pending trial, ruling that if he were released, there would be no way to "assure the safety of any other person." 

"Defendant is a South African citizen with no ties to the US. Alleged to have committed an unusually violent and unprovoked attack. Detained without prejudice," ruled the magistrate in a brief explanation.