S.Africa navy chief warns pirates could head south

27th October 2011, Comments 0 comments

African nations need to pool efforts to fight maritime security threats and to prevent pirates from other parts of the continent from heading south, South Africa's navy chief said Thursday.

"The requirement for all stakeholders within our maritime zones to work together is fundamental," Vice-Admiral Johannes Mudimu told a conference on African coastal security.

"Without high-level political commitment and resource allocation as well as intervention within the economic, social and security domains, little will be achieved," he added.

Southern African countries recently adopted a maritime safety strategy that "came about because of the real threat" of piracy emerging in southern waters, he told AFP.

South Africa sent anti-piracy patrols off of neighbouring Mozambique after a ship was attacked in December 2010.

"We constantly have the presence in the Mozambican channel," said Mudimu.

"We have with our presence there managed to repel this piracy perhaps to other areas where they serve as a safe haven for them for survive."

A threat of pirates, who have largely focused on the east coast and Gulf of Aden with a surge in west Africa, moving into South African waters and its busy shipping routes cannot be ruled out, he said.

"That's why what's important with us is that we have the ships at sea and our ships must be able to patrol the territorial waters," he said. "Because if you are not there at sea, somebody will occupy that space."

"If you weaken Mozambique, you weaken South Africa. If you weaken Angola, South Africa gets weaker and vice-versa," said Mudimu.

"So that's why I think we have a very strong region that shares a lot of commonality and the common strategy in terms of what is it that needs to be done to fight the menace that we are beginning to see in our waters."

The International Maritime Bureau said recently that piracy has reached record levels with 352 attacks reported worldwide so far this year.

© 2011 AFP

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