KZN trio spend week in Comores prison

2014-12-10 00:00

A KWAZULU-NATAL surf journalist and two travelling partners who were searching and documenting waves in the Indian ocean spent a week in a Comores jail.

Rian Greeff, who writes for the online surf magazine The Bomb, along with his brother Micus and their friend Dian Douglas — all from Richards Bay — were arrested by Comores officials, accused of entering the nation’s waters illegally on November 28. The Comores islands are on a known route for smugglers of contraband and human trafficking.

They were released on Saturday afternoon but banned from entering Comores territory again.

But according to the sailors’ parents, they had spent the week trying to reach both the South African Embassy in the Comores and the Comores consulate in Pretoria, to no avail.

The travellers had been sailing around Mayotte, a French island in the Indian Ocean. They were en-route to Tanzania.

Shortly after the arrest, Dian, through a local soldier, managed to get a Facebook inbox message to his mom alerting her they were in trouble.

Bushy Greeff, Micus and Rian’s father, said the three had no visas for the islands. “We tried to contact the South African Embassy in the Comores, the Comores Embassy in South Africa and consular services in South Africa. At no point could we find a person to speak to. It was very worrying period with no feedback on the well-being of the boys.”

The trio left with just $700 (R8 031), a year’s supply of food and over a dozen surfboards eight weeks ago, bartering fish caught for vegetables and fruit and other consumables with local communities.

On Saturday morning the families received a message that read it is likely they would be jailed. But hours later they received an SMS from an unnamed person that said: “Everything went well they left for Tanzania this afternoon.”

Dian’s mother, Jamyn Douglas, said: “My husband was to leave for Pretoria yesterday to go to the Comores Embassy. It was a very worrying period.”

The Bomb editor John McCarthy said the arrest was what adventures were made out of.

“I am just glad Rian made his deadline that week. I am happy he is okay and look forward to his next column.”

The Department of International Relations and Co-operation was unable to respond at the time of going to press.

• jonathan.erasmus@witness.co.za

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