Party boat captain not qualified - Samsa
Aletta Otto, Beeld
eMalahleni - The man who was steering a boat which capsized on Witbank Dam on Friday, resulting in six people drowning, didn't have a boatmaster's licence or certificate of competency.
In addition, the boat was apparently overloaded, and was being used for purposes for which it hadn't been registered, according to the South African Maritime Safety Authority (Samsa), which is investigating the tragedy.
Samsa spokesperson Prudence Mbatha said the boat was registered as a pleasure boat for families and not as a passenger boat for big groups.
"There were people standing on the boat's top level, which caused it to capsize," she said. People were apparently not allowed on the top level.
Steve Barham, owner of Barham Bay and the boat, said he was unaware that the boat was not registered as a passenger vessel for a larger group of people. "On my documentation it says that the boat is registered and licensed to transport a maximum of 21 people."
The licence and registration was issued by Samsa, he added.
"It is not our fault. The people from Samsa come out and inspect all the boats here. We have more than enough life jackets, fire extinguishers and required equipment for all the boats," he said.
Barham said he had often used the boat to transport up to 500 bricks, bags of cement and building material across the dam.
"There had never been a problem. And all those things weigh more than a ton."
Barham said he should have been behind the rudder. "I should actually have steered the boat. But due to important matters I was not at the resort. The programme for the Christmas party had to remain on schedule and uncle Deneys helped out himself."
Meanwhile, the six people who drowned in the tragedy have been identified by their next of kin.