A group of seafarers were left in limbo in the port of Durban, South Africa, after their ship was detained following the non-payment of wages.
The crew from tug/supply ship PSD2 had not been paid for up to 15 months. They also needed food and fresh water, and two crewmembers were in need of immediate medical attention.
The Tanzanian-flagged vessel, which arrived in Durban on December 10 from Mozambique, was also found to have a problem with rats and cockroaches.
Catholic charity Apostleship of the Sea (AoS) and chaplains from other organisations in Durban port have provided assistance to the 11 seafarers, one of whom is Catholic.
AoS Durban port chaplain Fr Herman Giraldo said conditions were quite dire and there was an atmosphere of hopelessness when he first visited the crew to bring them food.
“They were tight-lipped and did not want to speak about their situation. We eventually found out that they were owed nine months’ wages; one hadn’t been paid for 15 months. Apparently the company kept delaying payment, promising to pay ‘next week’ but never doing so,” he said.
In addition to not being paid, the seafarers also needed food, water, toiletries and desperately needed money to send home to their families. Two of the men needed immediate medical attention.
AoS was able to secure an emergency grant £1,000 from the Guild of Benevolence of the IMarEST (The Institute of Marine Engineering, Science and Technology)for medical bills, food and sanitation.
Fr Herman said, “A pest control firm was brought in to fumigate the ship as there was an infestation of rats and cockroaches. We also bought food and water that was much needed for the crew members as well as clothing and toiletries.”
He added, “A doctor came on board to treat the two crewmembers that needed medical attention. One had a heart condition but his medication was out-of-date, while the other had burnt his arm and could not be treated as their first-aid kit was almost empty.”
Fr Herman said all the crew except the master and two engineers had been repatriated. The three men will be repatriated as soon as their passports are renewed.
“Arrangements are being made for the vessel to be sold and the men are expected to get paid when this happens. The remaining crew on board are not allowed to leave the port,” he said, adding that AoS would continue supporting their welfare and pastoral needs.
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