Survivors of pirate attack lose their jobs

The Mozambican fishing company Pescamar has sacked the 12 Mozambican survivors of last December’s Somali pirate attack against one of the company’s vessels, reports the Beira daily paper “Diario de Mocambique”.

The ship, the “Vega 5”, was hijacked on 27e December 2010 off the coast of the southern Mozambican province of Inhambane, and taken to Somalia. Here it was turned into a pirate mother ship, and the crew members were forced to work for the pirates, as they raided shipping in the Arabian sea.

In March, an anti-piracy unit of the Indian navy engaged the “Vega 5” in a gun battle. The “Vega 5” caught fire, and those aboard jumped into the sea. The Indian navy picked up 61 pirates and 13 of the original crew members (12 Mozambicans and one Indonesian). Nine other crew members (seven Mozambicans and two Indonesians) were missing, believed drowned. The two Spanish crew members were held hostage in Somalia, and eventually released in May against a large ransom.

Pescamar cancelled the contracts of the survivors on Friday, on the grounds that the company now needed fewer workers.

The “Vega 5” survivors regard their dismissal as an injustice. Their loyal service to Pescamar was rewarded, first by months of captivity, and now by abrupt dismissal.

“We suffered greatly because of Pescamar, but now it kicks us out of our jobs. This shows a lack of human feelings”, a spokesman for the group told “Diario de Mocambique”.

Even before the sackings, the survivors were pursuing a claim for compensation. They are demanding the payment of 150,000 meticais (about 5,600 US dollars) each, as compensation for the physical and psychological damage they suffered in pirate captivity.

One of the group, Jose Mandava, said that Pescamar’s response was that there is nothing in Mozambican law about compensation. Yet somebody (believed to be Pescamar’s Spanish parent company, Pescanova) found the money to pay a multi-million dollar ransom for the Spaniards.

“Pescamar can’t resort to the law to deny us compensation”, exclaimed Mandava, “because it paid a ransom for the Spaniards to the Somali pirates, leaving the Mozambicans to their fate. It didn’t lean on the law then”.

“Where did Pescamar find a law which envisages paying a ransom only for Spaniards , and nothing for Mozambicans and Indonesians who were part of the same crew?”, asked another survivor, Lucas Chiremba.

Post published in: Africa News

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