Changes due to last year fatality

A fatality last year that left the line facing allegations in South Africa of sexual misconduct on its ships,made Safmarine to make changes to its cadet training programme.

Safmarine has now responded to those charges in a detailed account of exactly what happened on the UK-registered Safmarine Kariba in the hours before South African cadet Akhona Geveza was reported missing, and the subsequent inquiries in to her death.

The company den not make statements for the past 12 months while the case was being investigated by the UK Marine Accident and Investigation Branch and the Croatian police, who had jurisdiction over the case because of the location of the ship at the time of the incident, Safmarine has explained what has happened since and why its cadet training scheme remains so important.

This year, Safmarine's cadet programme consists of 11 navigating cadets and 10 engineering cadets, with another 40 still being trained from the 2008, 2009 and 2010 intakes. The line also has 35 cadets on its ships that are part of the Transnet Port Authority cadet programme. Since 2000, Safmarine has accepted 375 navigating and enginering cadets, of which 25 were female.

Chief executive Tomas Dyrbye states that the claims that surfaced in the South African media about Ms Geveza's death were not only deeply upsetting but "an inaccurate reflection of life on board our vessels".

Safmarine had never - in the 30-year history of the port cadet training programme - received any direct complaints of sexual harassment onboard our ships even though it, as a company, provide South Africans serving on our vessels with access to an independent and confidential service for reporting incidents of this nature.

The body of Ms Geveza was found in the sea, with the Croatian public attorney concluding that she had committed suicide. The chief officer did not face criminal charges, with whom the cadet was said to be having a relationship.

However, the officer in question, who was on a temporary contract and not a permanent crew member , has not been re-employed by Safmarine.

This happened because it is really important that a senior officer stands responsible for the well-being and comfort of cadets in his team.

Safmarine suspended its cadet training programme for several months following the tragedy after consultation with Transnet, which employed Ms Geveza.

However, the programme was resumed in March after a number of alterations were introduced,

In particular, Transnet cadets will only be deployed on the Europe-South Africa route where voyages are shorter and provide cadets with more opportunity to return home during their training.

In addition, all cadets will also have confidential and 24-hour access to the internet and their own personal email. A two-day life skills programme has been introduced for all cadets before they go on board. This is led by an industrial psychologist and includes life orientation skills, including role plays in real life situations, dealing with conflict and addressing issues such as harassment.

Safmarine said it has also introduced more stringent cadet recruitment procedures which includes, among others, profiling of a candidates' character and suitability for life at sea.

Safmarine made these changes because they do not want a single, isolated incident - no matter how tragic - to define and characterise this programme.

The port cadet training programme has, for more than 30 years, helped young South Africans to secure a nautical education and we remain committed to providing those opportunities into the future. Today, we see many South Africans - who had served as cadets on our vessels - in important positions in many of South Africa's ports and in business and we are proud that we have provided a foundation for their thriving careers.