Zanzibar news update – Ferry disaster culprits finally in court, charged with murder

11 people, including the captain, some of his crew and staff in charge of load controlling and operations of the ill fated ferry MV Spice Islander which sank off Zanzibar en route to Pemba were charged with murder and over 200 counts of negligence leading to death on Friday last week. Alongside the 10 in the dock stood MP Jaku Ayub with them, also charged with the same counts.
Mention of the case has been set for 02nd February at which stage the accused are due to take a formal plea before the High Court, not possible under the legal system in a lower court where the charges were filed and read out to them.
Independent reports peg the number of missing to over 1.000 additional passengers, with over 200 bodies recovered at the time of the accident, and while divers were unable to reach the deep waters where the ferry now rests to give any confirmation, it is generally suspected that most of those were trapped below deck and went down with the ship into their wet grave.
Only last Thursday was the final report of the commission of enquiry published and presented by Zanzibars Chief Secretary, which makes a damning piece of literature on the companys failures, omissions and deliberate oversights of safety regulations, loading procedures and keeping of passenger manifests. Corruption was also cited as one of the underlying factors of the disaster besides the dangerous mechanical condition of the ship and the total disregard to regulation under which to operate. Justice at last coming the way of the survivors and the families of those who lost their loved ones. Watch this space.

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