According to data provided by the Club's correspondents P&I Associations (Pty) Ltd, the current local laws pertaining to illegal foreigners boarding vessels has become very harsh: If an illegal person gains access to the vessel Immigration Authorities will automatically deem the illegal to be a stowaway unless the owners of the vessel can provide fool proof evidence to show that the person actually boarded the vessel in a South African Port.

Our Immigration Authorities are now declaring unwanted guests that are found onboard a vessel, while the vessel is still in Port, as stowaways. Basically, it is the vessel’s responsibility to ensure that nobody enters the vessel illegally.

As such the Club made the following recommendations:

  • The crew must not allow anyone onboard the ship who does not have a port permit.
  • Every visitor should have ISPS clearance.
  • All visitors should surrender their port permit to security and they should collect the same when they leave the ship.
  • If the crew finds someone who should not be onboard, they should be taken to the bottom of the gangway (not to the ships office) and they must call port security and advise them that the person in their custody at the bottom of the gangway tried to board the ship but they do not have a port permit.

As stowaways are known to access the vessel by climbing up the mooring lines or walking up the gangway pretending to be stevedores, the Club suggests that ships employ three private security guards on the quayside as follows:

  • one to patrol the aft mooring lines,
  • one to patrol forward mooring lines,
  • one to be posted at the bottom of the gangway. He must be briefed to check that nobody rushes up the gangway.

We also recommend that a dog search be conducted onboard the vessel prior to sailing. The Port Agent will be in a position to recommend the services of a security and stowaway search company. The dog search companies offer a guarantee to cover costs of the repatriation should they fail to detect a stowaway, however special attention should be given to their terms and conditions as these terms limit the amount of compensation payable by their company.