BREAKING NEWS... Chinese ship An Yue Jiang escapes court order by sailing

Apr 18, 2008
Author: P&S

The Chinese general cargo ship An Yue Jiang this evening escaped being served a court order instructing it to enter the port of Durban and discharge a cargo of arms and weapons intended for Zimbabwe. Instead the ship has up anchored and sailed for what is believed to be Maputo.

The ship sailed shortly after the Durban High Court issued instructions for the vessel, owned and operated by the Chinese shipping company COSCO, to enter port and discharge the cargo intended for Zimbabwe, which was be held in bond until a further hearing is heard next Friday.

The sheriff of Durban went out by boat to the outer anchorage to serve the court order only to find the ship in the process of sailing. It is believed that the An Yue Jiang advised Durban Port Control that Maputo was her next port of call. However attempts to obtain confirmation from Durban Port Control have proved unsuccessful the Port of Durban has suddenly decided it is not allowed to talk to the media.

Throughout the week Transnet and the port authority have avoided answering media enquiries about the vessel and its cargo.

However independent verification has confirmed that the ship has sailed from the Durban outer anchorage, ending several days of drama in Durban.

Yesterday Satawu, the transport trade union, said it would instruct its members not to offload the vessel nor to allow it to be taken by road to Zimbabwe. Other organisations meanwhile vowed to seek every legal measure to prevent the cargo of mortars and guns from being discharged and freighted to Zimbabwe. One of these organisations involving the South African Litigation Centre which included the Anglican Bishop of Natal, the Right Revd Rubin Phillips, successfully brought an urgent hearing before the Durban High Court.

It is this action that has been avoided by the ship slipping away into the night.

COSCO (China Ocean Shipping Company) is owned by the Peoples Republic of China and operates with a large fleet of vessels. The company does extensive business in South African ports where it is represented by the ships agency Cosren with offices in Durban, Cape Town and Port Elizabeth.

The incident appears to highlight the impotence of South Africa to prevent ships from leaving its territorial waters despite court orders and other injunctions.


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