Party boat captain not qualified - Samsa

2010-11-23 08:21

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.

  • Allan - 2010-11-23 08:41

    So what if he didn't have a certificate of competency, he probably knows more about boats and the dam than the people issuing the certificate. It was an accident, these things happen, it's called life. My heart-felt condolences to the next of kin but please accept that this tragedy is part of God's plan for us all and don't waste your emotions and energy trying to place the blame on an individual, particularly when he is not there to defend himself. This is a well known and dirty habit of the Sasol group, don't get involved in a witch-hunt that shouldn't happen in the first place.

      Zara - 2010-11-23 09:01

      Easy for you to say when its not a member of YOUR family! You think no one should be held accountable when they were taking money off people to arrange events that someone then dies in?

      Oscar - 2010-11-23 09:11

      I agree with Zara mate. I just cannot understand that on a boat with enough life jackets..and on a dam....6 people end up drowning.Begs the question how many of them could actually swim?

      Janaman - 2010-11-23 09:16

      Stricter rules, less bribes and common sense could have been utilise to avoid this whole matter. its called a mistake and we must learn instantly from this! i dont think the blame game is the key but someone was supposed to be controling the boat and that person should have never let more people then the maximum on board! sad but drinking on a boat is like farting on a fire! things can go wrong!

      jnrb71 - 2010-11-23 10:13

      Oh Please! How can you say "this tragedy is part of God's plan for us all"? If I voluntarily jump off a 20 storey building then, is it also part of God's plan for my life? No! I made that decision myself.God gives us freewill and sometimes we place our lives in the hands of others like pilots or technicians and unfortunately they make mistakes as well.I don't believe that God is like a puppet master who pulls all the strings- He gives you freedom to make a lot of choices yourself, and "yes" certain things are within your control and certain other things like cancer is not within your control.

      Worldwise - 2010-11-23 11:00

      God had absolutely nothing to do with this accident. It was caused by the laws of physics, which are inviolate. These laws determined an overloaded boat with a high centre of gravity. Booze and boats also don't mix, ask any registered sailor. Of course you can transport cement etc. in the boat. I bet he didn't put the cement etc. on the top though. That would also have caused a capsize due to increasing the centre of gravity. Shows that as a boat skipper he is having issues understanding stability, a subject required for his skippers ticket.

      Viv - 2010-11-23 13:23

      Dude you are missing a sensitivity chip - what a tactless and chalous thing to say "It was an accident, these things happen, it's called life." So easy for you to say when it is not your loved ones who are now dead due to incompetence of another. Let's see how you feel when your loved ones are taken away from you by a hand of another - dont forget hey 'its life'. Butthole

      gmck21 - 2010-11-23 13:54


      Fastbowler - 2010-11-23 16:37

      Oscar u chop - being able to swim is not a prerequisite to going on a boat. Your final thought could not be more irrelevant.

  • ray.romans - 2010-11-23 09:02

    I lost my skippers ticket and tried getting a copy from SAMSA. They have no record of it. I had to redo it. My temp license has since expired and I have received another one. This one will expire too, guaranteed. The lady who deals with them says you can wait up to 2 years before they issue permanent. SAMSA needs to sort their problems out. It looks like they are trying to pass the buck here. Condolences to friends and families of the deceased.

  • bill - 2010-11-23 09:24

    Perhaps the owner should stick to bricks.That pile of wood doesn't look at all seaworthy.

      tommo - 2010-11-23 10:34

      Or in this case damworthy.. looking at that pic I'd sooner trust a rusty tin can to float on.

  • Rhiannon - 2010-11-23 11:20

    There are bits of lemon peel on the dam that would make better floatation devices that this piece of flotsam.

  • Soothsayer - 2010-11-23 12:03

    "There were more than enough life jackets, fire extinguishers and required equipment for all the boats," Then why did the boat sink?I think liquor played a role,it was Xmas part,isn't?

      Renee - 2010-11-23 13:16

      The life jackets are precisely what caused the death of the people. They were trapped inside the glass cage and the life jackets kept the floating up against the top of the cage which prevented them from escaping. The boat sank due to weight placement to one side which made the boat capsize. Liquor and boats on water is a no go so they must ban all these types of "pleasure cruises" for Xmas parties.

  • gmck21 - 2010-11-23 13:56

    the boat looks like a shack on pontoons! def would not trust it

  • Hentus - 2010-11-23 14:17

    The new law on skippers licences and seaworthy certificates on vessels is aimed directly at preventing tragedies like these on our dams. It is people like Allan, with their "so What" atitude that doesnt give a hoot about these laws (or simply doesnt even know that they exist) that is endangering innocent people's lifes. I am a regular on dams and can tell out of experience that there is still far too many people on the water that is blatantly disregarding the rules and common sense!

  • potevan - 2010-11-23 15:12

    Skipper's (albeit an unlicences skipper) fault. He is in control and responsible for all passengers. Given the fact that it was a Xmas/Yera end pary, booze must have been involved. It still remains the Skippers responsibility to ensure the safety of his passengers. We have a similar vessel, and it is stable enough when everyone remains ON THE BOTTOM also helps if one can swim though...

  • avancer - 2010-11-26 12:34

    all you people, except allan, don't know diddly squat about what you are talking about.I have personally been on that barge many times and never once felt my life was in danger. Alcohol, boats and water never go together. I lost a very good friend that day and all I can say it was a freak accident. No one can lay blame to any specific individual or event. My deepest condolonces to all the other families

  • captain - 2010-11-26 15:13

    At the end of the day a vessel is licensed for a specific use be it commercial or pleasure and the insurance and liability should cover the same, the captain or master of the vessel should be qualified for the same certification as the vessel where it be pleasure or commercial and should it be used for some thing it is not registered for by someone not qualified for that vessel it is then being operated ilegaly, like it or not and the owner of the vessel and the captain/master are bothe equally responsible for EVERYTHING that occurs, now I know SAMSA can be a pain in the arse as I've had many dealings with them but they also operate under the International Maritime Organisation which makes the worldwide laws for anything maritime, and so if anything was amiss it's the owners and catians fault!!

  • LDM - 2010-12-01 13:14

    I have known Steven the owner of Barham Bay for many years and I can assure you that he would never do any thing to hurt another human. Steven is the kind of person that always plays by the rules and would do any thing to help someone in need. Steven our thought and prayers are with you and your family at this very difficult time.

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