I read with some concern this morning in one of our local Sunday papers about a young girl whom was raped and possibly murdered onboard a South African merchant ship. The girl’s body was subsequently found – she had apparently committed suicide by possibly drinking paint thinner, taking pills and throwing herself overboard.
In the article there are now apparent legal issues as to which country should lead the investigation. The ship is British registered. Throwing all legal complications to the wind it is up to the owners of the vessel to determine firstly what happened to safeguard their own reputation. Secondly, if there is foul play with regards to the young girl’s death the perpetrator should be apprehended and jailed, stuff the flag of registry. I find this state of affairs appalling. I was in the merchant marine and I can only pity the ship owner if foul play is determined because I’d hate to know what sort of characters are now lurking the oceans. I was at sea in the 80’s and my employers, Safmarine, were regarded amongst the best internationally. Yes there were bouts of idiotic drinking and mayhem but in general the guys onboard were good people. Now we have female sea-going staff and we turn to two of the oldest sins known to mankind – lust and power. The chief officer in this case was reported to be the alleged rapist. Now I don’t know about you but my time at sea was spent with chief officers that valued their rank and status. A chief officer at sea has huge responsibilites and the mind boggles if this individual is found guilty. You can be rest assured of one thing – people at sea speak. Gossip is worse than in a small town.
I gather the South African authorities Portnet are now sending previously disadvantaged people to sea for training. Are they been screened for this life? Are they looking into the possibility that one of the oldest cardinal sins, lust, might just be a catalyst to invite trouble onto a seagoing vessel. I met many people in Hong Kong, more often than not the air crew off various international airlines and believe me there was a lot of door knocking taking place at night after the party had ended. Sea life is rife with female passengers sleeping around. I don’t condone what happened here. I’m just merely worried about the filtering process. The Safmarine spokesperson mentioned that the last time they had investigated such a matter was thirty years back. I hope that this is the case. Right now there is highly probable case of rape and murder. A young girl just out of her teens did not deserve this. In the same token if the screening process is not adequate this is only the tip of the iceberg. I think the shit is going to hit the fan because once again South African authorities are putting previously disadvantaged groups into an area which they are ill equipped to orchestrate. A good looking female is just not equipped to be in this environment unless she has bigger balls than the captain or chief engineer and that my friend is not going to happen. This story is shocking to say the least!
As a footnote the article becomes confusing when they talk about officials. Are these officials from landborne titles, personnel belonging to Portnet? I’m no longer in this industry but here I’m really confused. Years ago we had South African navy cadets onboard for training and the Commanders overseeing their training were highly qualified and skilled individuals. And fantastic, well balanced people – I recall each and everyone been someone you could look up to. What is going on now? The full article from the Sunday Times can be read here.