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Web Alert: Stowaway prevention advice for South African ports

07 November 2016

It comes as no surprise to experienced ship owners that South Africa presents the possibility of stowaways and the disruption that this event can cause. For some time now South Africa has experienced regular stowaway activity at its major ports. P&I Associates (PTY) Ltd, based in Durban, has issued guidance on the unique challenges posed by the South African Authorities rules on Stowaways. The current rules state that:

'Should an unlawful person gain access onto a ship in a S.A. port, the person will automatically be deemed to be a stowaway unless the vessel can provide photographic, video or 3rd party evidence (terminal security) that the stowaway attempted to board the vessel in Durban.'

This approach by the South African authorities makes it of critical importance that vessels prevent unauthorised persons gaining access in the first instance.
P&I Associates (PTY) have stated that they judge the Christmas period to be a time of enhanced risk of stowaway attempts. They have also provided a risk profile and information designed to aid ship’s crews to frustrate such attempts:

Stowaway attacks occur as follows:

  1. Late at night or early hours of the morning 
  2. Clothing easily blends in with stevedore gangs wearing stevedore clothing, hard hats and reflective jackets
  3. Colours not easily seen at night
  4. Generally climb up berthing ropes, gangways and hide in empty containers and log-ships
  5. Many personnel working on vessels enable stowaways to blend in
  6. They bribe terminal security to enable them to get aboard vessels
  7. Carry provisions for part of the journey


For full details of what security measures are recommended for South African Ports please see the attached circular.