Southern African nations need to be on high alert as the region’s coastline and shipping lanes were vulnerable to piracy which was moving southwards, Defence Minister Lindiwe Sisulu warned on Monday.
“There is little doubt that the issue of piracy is beginning to be a serious problem to us,” said Sisulu.
She was speaking in Pretoria at a Southern African Development Community (SADC) defence meeting designed to develop an anti-piracy strategy.
“Our assessment is that Southern African waters are increasingly becoming an attractive alternative to Somali pirates as they try to avoid the clamp-down of various maritime task forces around the Horn of Africa and the Gulf of Aden — purely by moving into largely unprotected parts of the Indian Ocean,” she said.
Sisulu said a military strategy, which would address operational and funding requirements to deal with piracy was currently under consideration.
She said the recent discovery of oil and gas off the coast of SADC member Tanzania was “one main reason why speculation points toward pirates moving southward”.
“Six million tons of oil are transported around South Africa’s western coastline every month, which makes this a prime target for pirates.”
While the region has been relatively unaffected by piracy, Mozambican and Liberian-registered vessels were attacked in the SADC region in December and January. — AFP