Zorena Jantze

Namibian Police (NamPol) in an undercover operation yesterday, 1st September 2022, rescued a total of 57 people from various countries at Walvis Bay Port in a suspected case of human trafficking.

The workers were believed to have been hidden aboard the vessel MV Shang Fu and the Nata 2 vessel owned by Nata Fishing Enterprises. It is alleged that the vessels are owned by Chinese nationals.

Deputy Commissioner Kauna Shikwambi, national spokesperson for NamPol, confirmed the incident to the Informant and said the matter was detected on June 22, 2022 at around 09:00 a.m., when Namibian fisheries observers, with support of NamPol officers on patrol in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) in Namibian sea water.

She noted that since the discovery of the vessel in June this year, NamPol conducted a four-month investigation from June to September before rescuing victims of human trafficking this week.

“A preliminary investigation has since been launched and so far has revealed that there were 60 crew members, 30 in each vessel. A total of 35 Filipinas, two Taiwanese nationals, two Chinese nationals, three Indonesians, two Vietnamese, four Mozambican nationals and eight Namibians were found with valid documents and four Angolans, three of whom had passports,” Commissioner Shikwambi reported.

She added that other preliminary investigations indicate that some crew members had been on the ship since 2018.

“The assessment of the victims was done by social workers and it is still ongoing. An inspection was also carried out by the officials of the Ministry of Labor and it was detected that these people were mistreated, worked long hours without rest (four hours of rest only), they were even forced to work while they were sick. .

No medics were on board either ship and the workers did not have enough blankets. It was found that they were all working without work permits or visas,” Commissioner Shikwambi said.

Due to the above, an investigation is underway for the alleged victims of human trafficking on board the vessel MV Shang Fu and the vessel Nata 2 owned by Nata Fishing Enterprises.

Commissioner Shikwambi said the company is suspected of violating the Marine Resources Act, the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act, violation of the Labor Act, violation of the Control of immigration, and may also be charged with possible fraud under common law.

Of the 60 crew members found on board the two vessels, 48 ​​workers, including nine seniors (Captains, Mate, Second Officer, Chief Engineer and 2nd Engineer) are suspected victims of human trafficking.

They have so far been rescued from both ships yesterday, September 1, 2022, and are being kept safely in a secure shelter. Both vessels will be seized as instruments of crime.

HUMAN TRAFFICKING: Stock photo for illustrative purposes only.