The South African Police Service has arrested the Vietnamese crew of a Taiwanese fishing vessel for piracy.
Police spokeswoman Director Sally de Beer says elite Special Task Force commandos boarded the vessel outside Table Bay harbour this morning and arrested ten crew members who were holding the boat`s captain and first officer hostage.
“The rescue drama started unfolding yesterday at 3pm when the [police] was alerted to the fact that conflict on board the fishing vessel “Balena” had resulted in ten of the 29 crew members taking the captain and first officer hostage and commandeering the vessel.
“Information received indicated that the mutineers demanded that the vessel enter Table Bay harbour, De Beer adds.
“A task team consisting of the SAPS Special Task Force, Western Cape Legal Services, Organised Crime Unit, Dog Unit, Port of Entry unit and hostage negotiators, as well as the National Ports Authorities and the Department of Home Affairs, was assembled and the vessel – which at the time was in international waters – was authorised to enter South African waters.
“At 5.30 this morning members of the Special Task Force boarded the hijacked vessel, freed the hostages and took the crew into custody.
“The Special Task Force team – made up of highly skilled and trained members from the Pretoria, Cape Town and Durban units – was dispatched by aircraft from Pretoria to deal with the hostage situation. The Special Task Force is specifically trained to deal with high risk situations, including hostage-taking, on land, sea or air.
“The vessel was boarded before it entered Table Bay harbour and the crew offered no resistance. No force was necessary to effect the arrests,” De Beer says.
“At this stage 10 crew members – all Vietnamese – are being held in custody facing charges relating to kidnapping and alternatively piracy (which involves any act of illegal violence or detention on the high seas). The other crew members on board played no part in the hijacking of the vessel and have not been detained,” she adds.
“The captain of the vessel was unharmed while the first officer sustained injuries during an assault during the hijacking and was treated by paramedics.”
Acting National Commissioner of police Tim Williams commended the units involved, saying it “proves that the SAPS has the capacity and skills to deal with any security-related situation effectively”.