Indonesian fishing boat crew left stranded by Taiwanese ship owner
By Ted Chen, The China Post
December 3, 2013, 12:08 am TWN
TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Seventy-five Indonesian fishermen, their 5 Taiwanese and 8 mainland Chinese supervisors hired by a Taiwanese ship owner have been held under detention in South Africa for months, according to reports.
The fishermen had been detained at Table Bay, Cape Town by authorities who alleged that they had illegally fished in unauthorized waters off the coast of South Africa and apprehended the ship's Taiwanese captain, according to the Jakarta Globe.
Reports indicated that as their Taiwanese employer had failed to produce required legal documents, the Indonesian fishermen were prohibited from making landfall and were required to remain on the fishing vessel, suffering in squalid conditions for about three months. Local authorities later transferred them to a deportation center in Johannesburg on Saturday, Nov. 30, according to reports.
Local authorities were compelled to transfer the fishermen to a deportation center after reports of their plight emerged, said Miriam Augustus, who voluntarily brought food and water to sustain the Indonesian fishermen.
Despite their plight, the Indonesians insisted on staying in Johannesburg, claiming that they were left penniless as their unscrupulous Taiwanese employers had withheld their wages.
According to a 44-year old fisherman, the fishermen were passed off from one Taiwanese fishing captain to another over a 37-month period, all without receiving pay.
The Taiwanese fishing ship is little more than a seaworthy sweatshop, with a single toilet the only amenity for a crew of 12, said Cassiem Augustus, an inspector at the International Transport Workers' Federation. The conditions suffered by the Indonesian workers are tantamount to human rights abuse and human trafficking, Augustus added. Tricked and abandoned by their employment agents, the fishermen had worked 20 hours a day on undocumented fishing vessels before their detainment by South African authorities, said Augustus.