Maritime Security

South Africa on high alert as Somali pirates continue their attacks

The South African government is on high alert following non-stop piracy alerts close to Southern Africa’s maritime borders.  This was the latest message from Defence Minister Lindiwe Sisulu speaking in Pretoria at a Southern African Development Community (SADC) extraordinary meeting on regional anti-piracy strategies.  Minister, Lindiwe Sisulu, called for “robust rules of engagement” to deal with pirates who last year hijacked a South African private yacht whilst sailing off the Tanzanian coastline.  Three South African citizens were onboard however Captain Peter Eldridge refused to leave his yacht and the pirates fled with his two crew members.

While Southern Africa had been distanced from the threat of piracy in the past, over the past few months it had become a major cause for concern for the region.  The major trade artery along Africa’s east coast is becoming increasingly vulnerable, with pirates moving south, especially with the recent discovery of oil and gas off the Tanzanian coastline.

Six million tonnes of oil is transported around South Africa’s western coastline every month and SADC waters are an alternative route for companies wishing to avoid piracy around the Horn of Africa.  These waters have become an attractive alternative to Somali pirates trying to avoid the clampdown of the maritime task forces around eastern Africa.

“If pirates move into South African trade routes, it will have a detrimental effect on many economies” said Minister Sisulu.