Parliamentary Question: DoT: Death of young sea cadet


Minister Ndebele on investigation into death of young sea cadet

Transport Minister Sibusiso Ndebele has called on the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) to leave no stone unturned in their investigation into the death of 19-year-old sea cadet Akhona Felicity Geveza.

Geveza was part of the Transnet National Port Authority (TNPA) cadet training programme on a United Kingdom flagged vessel, the MV “Safmarine Kariba”, and was found dead under mysterious circumstances in Croatian waters on 24 June 2010. She was left with only two weeks to complete her mandatory sea time to obtain her ship navigating officer qualification. Geveza was born in 1990 at Nxarhuni in East London and laid to rest on 17 July 2010 at her home in Nxarhuni.

Minister Ndebele directed SAMSA to conduct an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death of Geveza specifically and into the South African sea cadet training programme generally. The scope of the investigation includes determining whether Geveza was raped as well as the exact cause of her death. The investigation is being carried out in terms of the SAMSA Act and Merchant Shipping Act, to ensure safety of life and property at sea and to promote South Africa’s maritime interests.
“We call upon SAMSA and all other authorities involved in the investigation into the death of Ms““““–  Akhona Felicity Geveza to leave no stone unturned. If the investigation reveals any criminal activity or negligence on the part of any person, criminal proceedings must be instituted against such person in whatever country that person may be or wherever criminal jurisdiction may be established. The cadet training programme also needs to be reviewed in order to ascertain whether there is indeed abuse of sea cadets, and steps must be taken to ensure their protection as well as proper treatment and working conditions of seafarers,” said Minister Ndebele.

It is alleged that during her time aboard the MV “Safmarine Kariba,” Geveza was sexually harassed and may have been raped by the Chief Officer (a Ukrainian national). She apparently confided this to a colleague. The Master of the vessel was informed accordingly and convened a meeting between Geveza and the Chief Officer on 24 June 2010, presumably to investigate the allegations. The deceased failed to appear for the meeting. A search of the vessel revealed she was missing. The vessel turned around to conduct a search at sea and some two hours later her body was found in Croatian waters. Unidentified tablets and a partially consumed bottle of thinners were found amongst Geveza’s belongings. Following an autopsy by Croatian Authorities, the cause of death was attributed to drowning.