Report: Seven Seafarers Charged for Abandoning Stowaways in Raft

Top Grace (file image via social media)

Published Apr 10, 2020 11:06 PM by The Maritime Executive

Seven crewmembers of the bulker Top Grace have been charged with attempted murder for allegedly abandoning two stowaways at sea in a raft, according to South African media.

South African prosecutors assert that the two Tanzanian stowaways recently boarded the Top Grace at the port of Durban, South Africa. The vessel got under way for Richards Bay, about 90 nm to the northeast. When the crew discovered the unauthorized personnel, they allegedly put them over the side in a raft with bottled water and lifejackets, then resumed their voyage.

The stowaways managed to make it ashore at Zinkwazi (Nkwazi), and they told authorities that they had been adrift for four days. 

The vessel was intercepted by South African police when she docked in Richards Bay. Seven crewmembers, including the captain, were charged Wednesday at the Durban Magistrates Court with attempted murder in connection with the incident. 

Local media reports indicate that the start of the trial was postponed for several days while awaiting COVID-19 test results for the accused. In the interim, the crewmembers have been released on bail and are confined to their vessel. 

The 2016-built Top Grace is a 60,000 dwt bulker owned and operated by a Hong Kong-based company. As of Friday night she was moored in Richards Bay.