Tanzania asks SA for anti-pirate help


Tanzania has requested South Africa to assist it in fighting piracy, Minister of Defence and Military Veterans Lindiwe Sisulu says.

“I am informed that the Government has received a request from Tanzania, through the Department of International Relations and Co-operation, which has been forwarded to the Department of Defence,” she said in an oral reply to a question by National Council of Provinces member RA Lees.
“The matter has subsequently been referred to the acting Chief of the National Defence Force so that he may advice the Minister, and the Minister may advice the Cabinet. Currently the matter is under consideration.”

Cabinet last month tasked Sisulu with developing a strategy to address the threat of piracy in Southern African waters. Government spokesman Jimmy Manyi at a post-Cabinet media briefing said the executive had “noted the increasing threat of piracy in South African waters and agreed to explore initiatives aimed at assisting Somalia to counter some of the root causes of piracy.” Government also “further supported the implementation of the Eastern and Southern African-Indian Ocean (EAS-IO) strategy to combat piracy along the coast of Somalia and the greater Southern African waters.”

Manyi said the strategy, once completed, would be put to Cabinet for consideration. He noted the “strategy that will focus on South Africa’s stance in relation to stabilising the political situation in Somalia; the legislative framework dealing with criminals involved in piracy; the positioning and strengthening of South African naval forces’ capacity in relation to the continent and other countries; and co-opting assistance from neighbouring countries.”

Sisulu told a media briefing on February 25 the Valour-class frigate SAS Mendi was already off Mozambique informally collecting information on piracy and cooperating with authorities there “to ensure maritime security in Southern African waters.
“We experienced an intrusion into the waters of SADC around the 28th of December with the hijacking of a Mozambican vessel that contained 28 Mozambicans and two Spanish sailors,” Sisulu said. “The Mozambicans requested of us to assist them because they don’t have the necessary equipment and in terms of a memorandum of understanding we have with Mozambique we responded to this.
“We have now gone back to Cabinet in line with the developments and the trend that we see on the matter of piracy to say it is important that we look at this matter and devise strategies to deal with it so that we don’t have a once off response to this problem. We do know that the African Union is committed to ensuring that if we are going to deal with the matter of Somalia piracy we have got to attend to the matter of the transitional Government in Somalia,” she said.
“You will remember that the President indicated that we are doing all we can as South Africa to ensure that we can assist the fragile transitional Government of Somalia so that we have institutions on Somalia that can hold and that can impose some form of law and order. On the other hand it is not possible for us to sit back when we have incursion on waters that we are responsible for so we deployed the SAS Mendi to patrol the borders so that it can bring us a little more information and actually indicate to anybody out there that South African waters is protected. We have not yet formally deployed and when we do first Cabinet will be informed, Parliament will be informed and the public will be informed however we remain very concerned about the intrusion of piracy into our space and we remain determined that we will not allow it to continue.”