The South African Police Service's explosives unit confirmed on Wednesday that an uncleared Chinese vessel docked at the outer anchorage of Durban harbour was carrying arms. Leonard Hadebe, head of Durban customs, said: "We have confirmed that the shipment was headed for Zimbabwe."
The South African Police Service’s explosives unit confirmed on Wednesday that an uncleared Chinese vessel docked at the outer anchorage of Durban harbour was carrying arms.
Customs revealed that the shipment was destined for Zimbabwe.
Inspector Nicholas Gunther, of the explosives unit in Durban, said the An Yue Jiang was carrying a shipment of arms. “We went there just now and they are not being allowed in,” he said.
He added: “There was a problem with the documents they submitted and we have directed the matter to the chief inspector of explosives in Pretoria ... and it may take days for them to get clearance.”
If the vessel does not get clearance, it will have to leave. However, if, for example, the ship was carrying 500 containers and only one container had not been cleared, the vessel would still be allowed to enter the port.
“They would be allowed to enter, offload those containers that have been cleared by the South African government and leave with those that had not been cleared,” said Gunther.
Leonard Hadebe, head of Durban customs, said: “We have confirmed that the shipment was headed for Zimbabwe. It arrived at the Durban harbour on April 14. Right now the ship is awaiting clearance. If they are carrying any prohibited or illegal goods, they will be detained by customs.”
Gunther, though, said that much of the cargo on board was destined for companies in South Africa. Asked if he knew whether any was destined for Zimbabwe, he said he was not sure.
“But if it was trans-shipment then it gets imported here and is sent by road or rail to neighbouring countries. We are not sure if that’s what they are doing,” he said.
National Ports Authority spokesperson Ricky Bhikraj confirmed that the An Yue Jiang had entered the port. “We can confirm that there is an uncleared vessel [not cleared to enter port] by that name currently at the outer anchorage. The allegations are being handled by the various national security authorities,” he said.
Bhikraj, meanwhile, said the vessel had to follow procedures. “There is a normal process for all ISPS [international ship and ports security] vessels to be cleared to enter the port.”
The An Yue Jiang will now have to go through that process and that it could take quite some time before it is cleared.
Asked whether there were arms on the ship, Bhikraj said: “We can’t comment on whether or not there were arms on the vessel.”
KwaZulu-Natal police spokesperson Superintendent Vincent Mdunge also said he could not comment on the matter.—Sapa