A Chinese Ship Captain has pleaded guilty to attempted murder after throwing two Tanzanians overboard into the shark infested waters of the Indian Ocean, South Africa.
The Chinese captain and his crew say the two East Africans were thrown overboard because they were afraid they would contract coronavirus from them.
Both men, 30 yr old Hassaini Rajabu and 20 yr old Amiri Salamu were given two bottles of drinking water and a lifejacket before being thrown overboard.
According to the New York post, both men were stowaways who hid in the ship after the ship came from Singapore to Durban, South Africa. They were discovered by the crew after the ship had pulled out of harbour and travelled some distance on the Indian Ocean.
According to South Africa’s National Prosecuting Agency spokesperson, Natasha Kara who described the incident vividly;
“The accused became wary of the men and asked them to wear face masks in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. The men refused to wear the face masks.
They gave them food and water, and put them into a separate room, as they did not know their COVID-19 status and feared for the rest of the crew. The two men demanded to know the vessel’s destination.”
The crew thereafter assembled a raft made of plywood, plastic drums and rope, gave both Tanzanians two bottles of water and a life jacket before setting them aboard the raft under the supervision of Chinese Captain Cui Rongli.
The men were thrown overboard at the mouth of the Tugela River, a known hotspot for Great Whites, Tigerhead, Hammerhead , Tiger and Bull Sharks.
The duo washed up on Zinkwazi beach near Durban three days later suffering from hunger, hypothermia, and thirst. They were taken to hospital by locals who rescued them from the beach.
According to the African Maritime Safety Agency, the ship, MV Top Grace was seized when it docked at Richards Bay in KwaZulu-Natal South Africa and the Chinese captain was arressted.
The captain Rongli alongside his crew members, Lin Xinyong, Zou Yongxian, Tan Yian, Xie Wenbin, Xu Kun and Mu Yong, pleaded guilty to attempted murder at the Durban Magistrate court on Friday.
The captain and his crew members reached a plea bargain with the South African prosecutors and they were subsequently fined by the court.
Rongli was fined $5,000 while his crew members got a fine of $2,500 each.
The prosecution released a statement regarding the case saying;
The accused provided the men with life jackets and the crew acted in a threatening manner banging the vessel’s decks as they descended into the raft,”
“The ship pulled away leaving them (stowaways) once they were aboard the raft. The accused admitted that their actions could have resulted in serious injury and even the loss of life.”
“[On March 26], they (accused) were handed over to immigration officials after paying their fines.”