SAS Drakensberg (A301), the SA Navy’s fleet replenishment vessel, is in the Mozambican port of Beira unloading its second cargo of humanitarian aid for the country after it was severely damaged by a pair of cyclones in March.
The humanitarian assistance to South Africa’s eastern neighbour follows a call by then International Relations and Co-operation Minister Lindiwe Sisulu for South Africans to help in whatever way they could after the weather events.
The Drakensberg took 67 containers of donations from South Africa to Beira on its first mercy mission earlier this month, Able Seaman Samuel Ramonyai reported for the Department of Defence (DoD). The Drakensberg left Durban on 31 July on the first mission – it had spent several weeks on an Operation Copper anti-piracy mission in the Mozambique Channel from early July.
The humanitarian relief effort is co-ordinated by the maritime service of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) and the SA Revenue Service (SARS) and follows an appeal by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to the wider international community.
It took three days to load the first cargo of aid at Naval Base Durban and the Drakensberg subsequently docked and offloaded in the Mozambican port.
Drakensberg Officer Commanding Captain (SAN) Kwaedi Mabula said the fleet replenishment platform would undertake a third mercy voyage to deliver the last of the aid donated by South Africa. A SARS representative is quoted as saying the donations were clothing and blankets all illegally imported into South Africa and confiscated by government customs officials.
According to ship tracking data, SAS Drakensberg arrived in Beira on 20 August.