Tag Archives: Akhona Geveza

MARITIME | Safmarine death probe call

A new call for a full UK investigation into the suspicious death of female Safmarine cadet Akhona Geveza has been made in the UK House of Lords [on March 3].

Baroness Jane Campbell called a for full probe into the death of the 19-year-old South African cadet who died after falling overboard from the 6,696-teu Safmarine Kariba (built 2008) last June, shortly after allegedly telling colleagues she had been raped by one of the ship’s officers.

Although the accident happened off the coast of Croatia, the vessel – owned by the AP Moller-Maersk subsidiary – is flagged in the UK.

Baroness Campbell said in a House of Lords debate marking the centenary year of International Women’s Day: “The seafarers’ union, Nautilus International, has called for a full investigation into the death of cadet Geveza.

“That is surely the least that we should do in response to the tragic death of this young woman?”

Earlier this year, after a meeting with UK transport minister Mike Penning Nautilus told TradeWinds: “We do not believe the UK flag is doing what it should be doing in finding out what exactly went on.”

A Croatian police report into the incident later concluded that she committed suicide after taking pills and also drinking poisonous liquids. It also said she was in a consensual relationship with an officer.

Nautilus has some doubts over the report, which at one point describes the relationship between Geveza and the officer as “consensual but rough”.

Baroness Campbell, who is a well-know disability rights campaigner and is disabled herself, also drew attention to the particular pressures on female seafarers.

For women, living and working on board ship requires great dedication, tolerance and self-belief. Often they will be the only female on board, with a group of men used to a male only environment. At sea it is impossible to walk away, to change one’s surroundings, or one’s ship-mates.”

She added: “Many women are employed on cruise ships. Whilst there are good employers, tales of bullying and sexual harassment continue to taint the reputation of the cruise industry.

“Women from developing countries often secure employment only after making payments to dubious agencies. These women are exploited even before they have set foot on board.”

The Baroness, who is the wife of maritime debt chaser Roger Symes, also criticised the UK government’s decision this week to stop core funding for the International Labour Organisation, which has worked to tackle such problems.

“The ILO has a vital strategic role in protecting seafarers’ rights and in getting governments and the shipping industry to adopt the policies of equality and protection from abuse and exploitation that we ashore take for granted. The ILO is an organisation that the shipping industry cannot ignore.

“I hope the government will ensure that its vital role in working towards equality for women seafarers is protected.”

Source: http://www.tradewinds.no/casualties/577578/safmarine-death-probe-call?mobile=&lots=site

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Croatian police wrap up Safmarine cadet death probe

Steve Matthews | LLOYD’S LIST

CROATIAN police have concluded their investigation into the death of 19-year-old South African cadet Akhona Geveza, whose body was found in the sea off Rijeka on June 24 after she went overboard from the Safmarine containership Safmarine Kariba.

The Director of Police Administration for Primorsko-goranska region told Lloyd’s List that it had concluded a criminal investigation into the death and submitted a report to the State Attorney’s office in Rijeka. It will decide on what, if any, further action will be taken. However, he did not reveal the findings of the investigation or the content of the report. He confirmed that no police forces from any other countries were involved in the investigation.

Suspicions were aroused when it was revealed that Ms Geveza had made allegations of rape against the vessel’s Ukrainian chief officer. She was onboard the Safmarine vessel as part of a scheme enabling cadets of South Africa’s National Ports Authority Transnet to gain seagoing experience. The incident prompted further allegations by Transnet cadets of sexual harassment onboard vessels.

Transnet spokesman John Ddudlu said: “Transnet is currently reviewing the cadet maritime programme and, through its employee assistance programme, has appointed independent service providers to conduct one-on-one interviews with all the cadets who have gone through the programme. We will use their experiences to determine appropriate steps to be taken to prevent similar incidents in future. In addition, the conversations will assure cadets at sea that they have access to support should they experience any difficulties. The review is ongoing.”

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LAW | Sea cadet death probe raises jurisdiction concerns

Nautilus calls for detailed investigation into death of cadet who was lost overboard from a Safmarine boxship

Steve Matthews | LLOYD’S LIST

THERE are increasing concerns about investigations into the suspicious death of 19-year-old South African officer cadet Akhona Geveza who was lost overboard from the UK-flagged Safmarine containership Safmarine Kariba on June 24 while the ship was in Croatian waters near Rijeka.

This case once again throws the spotlight on how to ensure the proper investigation of serious crimes onboard ships at sea where various legal jurisdictions are potentially involved.

Officers’ trade union Nautilus International general secretary Mark Dickinson has written to UK secretary of state for transport Phillip Hammond, urging that a proper investigation is undertaken regarding the circumstances surrounding her death.

Ms Geveza was onboard the Safmarine ship as part of an arrangement with South African harbour authority Transnet to provide seagoing opportunities for Transnet cadets. Transnet specifically encourages the recruitment of young South African women as officer trainees.

In particular there are concerns that she had previously made allegations that she was raped by the ship’s Ukrainian chief officer. It has been claimed that other South African cadets have made similar allegations. Safmarine told Lloyd’s List that it “has not received any complaints of sexual harassment taking place onboard its vessels”.

In his letter Mr Dickinson says: “We believe it is particularly important that the UK, as flag state, takes a highly visible leading role in seeking to establish the truth of the allegations and – if true – to ensure that appropriate action is taken.”

It calls on the Department for Transport to do everything possible to secure a full and transparent investigation.

Mr Dickinson has also written to UK Home Secretary Theresa May expressing concern at the lack of information about any criminal enquiries into the allegations. He says it is unclear whether investigations are being carried out by the South African police, the Croatian police, or the British police. An added complication is that the Ukrainian chief officer left the vessel in Port Said, Egypt.

A spokeswoman for Safmarine told Lloyd’s List that investigations into the death are still underway. She said that Safmarine was co-operating with authorities investigating the matter, which include the Croatian police, South African Maritime Safety Authority and the UK Marine Accident and Investigation Branch.

However, Lloyd’s List understands that the MAIB is not actively investigating the incident as it normally defers to any ongoing police investigation, which in this case appears to be in the hands of the Croatian police.

A DfT spokesperson said to Lloyd’s List: “This is a tragic incident and we extend our sympathies to the family of Ms Geveza. This is now the subject of a criminal investigation and we are happy to assist if asked. However, it is not for the DfT to intervene in a police enquiry.”

Lloyd’s List contacted the Croatian police but at the time of going to press they were unable to give any information on the status or progress of the investigation.

A spokesman for the UK Home Office said to Lloyd’s List that British police involvement in such international investigations usually follows a mutual legal assistance request from authorities in other countries, but the Home Office does not confirm or deny whether such requests have been made in individual cases. Lloyd’s List understands that British police are not currently conducting an investigation into this incident.

This uncertainty about how the death is being investigated highlights fears that the various jurisdictions involved could end up with an inadequate investigation taking place into an extremely serious criminal offence.

Nautilus is concerned that the case has important implications for the international maritime industry and especially ensuring equal opportunities as the industry seeks to attract more women seafarers. “There must be no whitewash and no cover-up,” Mr Dickinson said.

The union has tabled a motion, in co-operation with the South African Transport Workers Union, at this week’s International Transport Workers Federation Congress in Mexico City. It expresses concern that “these allegations could damage irreparably the image of shipping as a career choice for young people and especially among young women”.

It calls on the ITF to ensure that Ms Geveza’s family receive justice with a full and open investigation and action concerning all allegations of abuse by Transnet cadets and that any conclusions are implemented quickly. The ITF should “send a message to the shipping industry that the worldwide maritime trade union family will not tolerate this kind of treatment of any seafarer on any ship and redouble its efforts to support the eradication of harassment and bullying at sea and the promotion of mutual respect and equal opportunities in shipping”.

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MARITIME | Safmarine ship officer removed from duty after cadet death

Company moves to act after allegations surrounding Transnet cadet death

MYSTERY continues to surround the death of 19-year-old Transnet cadet Akhona Geveza on June 24, who fell overboard the Safmarine Kariba vessel in the Adriatic Sea, off the coast of Croatia.

Following allegations in South Africa’s Sunday Times newspaper that she was the victim of a rape on board the ship, Safmarine has confirmed the vessel’s chief officer has been removed from duty. Continue reading

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YEAR OF THE SEAFARER | South African teen’s horror on the high seas

Riddle of cadet sailor’s drifting body deepens with shocking claims of sexual abuse on board

MZILIKAZI wa AFRIKA | SUNDAY TIMES, South Africa

The death of a young South African woman abroad has exposed a shocking sexual abuse scandal. The victims are matriculants pursuing maritime careers.

Just hours after Akhona Geveza reported that she had been raped aboard the Safmarine Kariba cargo vessel last month, the 19-year old’s body was found drifting in the sea off the Croatian coast.

Geveza was two weeks shy of completing her cadetship to become a ship’s navigation officer. She was buried at her home village of Nxarhuni in the Eastern Cape yesterday. Several investigations into her death have been launched.

Geveza was one of more than 100 young South Africans women to have gone through the Transnet National Ports Authority’s Maritime Studies Programme as part of a campaign to encourage young women to become seafarers.

Her death has been billed a suicide abroad – but the South African police have launched their own investigation since the return of her body last week, and Transnet is to set up an independent inquiry into the matter.

Several cadets in the maritime studies programme, speaking to the Sunday Times on condition of anonymity, said there was systematic abuse of power by senior officers, who threatened cadets’ careers if they did not perform sexual acts. The sex abuse allegations include claims that :

  • Two male cadets were raped by senior officials while at sea;
  • A female cadet terminated two pregnancies that followed her rape at sea;
  • Three female trainees were pregnant at the end of their 12-month training stint;
  • A male cadet was sent home a month before finishing his programme because he refused to have sex with a senior official; and
  • A female cadet has a child with a married South African Maritime Safety Agency executive after he forced himself on her and threatened to cancel her contract if she told anyone.

Said a former female cadet: “When we arrived on the vessel, there were 10 women, and we were told that the captain is our god; he can marry you, baptise you and even bury you without anybody’s permission. We were told that the sea is no man’s land and that what happens at sea, stays at sea.”

Said another former female cadet: “It was like we were dumped in the middle of a game park.”

The former male cadet who was allegedly raped said: “I really don’t want to talk about it. Bad things are happening at sea and I am one of the victims.”

Geveza’s stint aboard the Safmarine Kariba ended tragically on June 24. At 10am that day she told Shipmaster Klaudiusz Kolodziejczyk that she had repeatedly been raped by a senior officer aboard the British-registered ship. According to a report by Kolodziejczyk, he immediately confronted the officer and convened a conference with him and Geveza for 11am.

When she failed to arrive for the meeting, a search was conducted. Kolodziejczyk, alerted by some pills and a bottle of thinners found on the forecastle of the ship, sounded the alarm and called sea rescue from the port of Rijeka in Croatia.

Three hours later, Geveza’s body was found floating in the sea.

Her father, John Geveza, said the career of the bright young woman – his only child – had represented hope for her unemployed parents.

“I won’t rest until the person or people responsible for my daughter’s death are in jail,” he said.

SA police spokesman Major-General Mark Magadlela confirmed this week that police were investigating whether Geveza’s death was suicide or murder.

“We are also investigating allegations that she was raped on the vessel by a senior official.”

Transnet is setting up a board of inquiry. Spokesman John Dludlu offered condolences to the Geveza’s family.

However, he said it was unfortunate that some of the “ex cadets” had opted to raise their claims of sexual abuse for the first time through the media.

“Transnet assures the parents of current and future interns … we will spare no effort in ensuring that all participants in our training programmes are safe. We encourage members of the public and our students to report any form of abuse of authority to our independently managed anti-corruption toll-free line.”

On the night before she died, Geveza confided in a fellow cadet, Nokulunga Cele. Cele made a statement, a copy of which the Sunday Times has seen. In it she explains how Geveza had told her that the chief officer had forced himself on her several times.

Cele said the Ukrainian officer, whose name is known to the Sunday Times, apparently first tried to kiss her while he was teaching her to swim early in May. The officer later apologised to her and called her to his room where he allegedly raped her.

Cele said Geveza was not willing to report the matter to the shipmaster because she feared that nobody would believe her.

Cele informed Kolodziejczyk the following morning.

Safmarine spokesman Debbie Owen said: “Although our association with Ms Geveza was a brief one, we as Safmarine are deeply saddened by her tragic death and Safmarine is conducting a thorough inquiry into what happened.” Owen said the incident was the first of its kind in 30 years.

Read also:
Legal tangle over teen’s death

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MARITIME | Safmarine establishes memorial scholarship in honour of lost cadet

Cadet Akhona Marara Felicity Geveza

Akhona Marara Felicity Geveza

Safmarine announced today (15 July 2010) it has established a scholarship in the memory of Transnet National Ports Authority cadet, Akhona Felicity Geveza, who died tragically at sea on June 24, 2010 while undergoing her on-board sea training on the containership Safmarine Kariba.

According to Safmarine’s Africa Region Executive, Jonathan Horn, “The scholarship will allow three young South Africans to complete the three-year Maritime Studies Programme at Simon’s Town High School. This programme, which was pioneered by Safmarine in 1995, has made a real and visible difference in the lives of many young South Africans by providing them with maritime-related skills while they are still at school.”

The Akhona Geveza Memorial Scholarship will cover the costs of tuition, books and accommodation for three learners boarding at the Lawhill Maritime Centre in Simon’s Town.

Source: http://prezencenewmedia.com/safmarine/info_detailed/index.php?AssetID=1261

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