Mystic case of tug-boat still unsolved after 16 years

Press Statement by SAP

Sixteen years have now passed since the Panamian registered tug-boat MT Harrier dissappeared without trace in the Indian Ocean near Zanzibar and with it a crew of six .

The vessel left the port of Mombasa on August 5^th 1988 laden with provisions and 20 tones of cement to deliver to a construction site in the Indian Ocean Island of Pemba, Tanzania.

On board the vessel were a Ugandan Capt. Justus Tumwikyirize, and 5 Kenyan Seafarers namely Chief Officer - Simon Mutunga, Engineer - Hannington Chitoro, Mwakunya Muhamed - the bosun, John Chula the greaser and Awadh Hamisi - the Cook.

Their fate todate has yet be decided and despite a Commission of Inquiry under Justice Emmanuel Okubasu having sat for almost a year , their report has yet to be made public .

It is for this reason that relatives , friends and dependants of the deceased crew member would like to ask the Government of Kenya to do the following .

1. Make the findings of the Okubasu Commission of Inquiry into the disappearance of the Harrier public so that the relatives and dependants can plan their next plan of action

2. Explain the criteria that was used by the Shipping company that owned the Harrier to give some token payments before the expiry of the legally required seven years period

3. To explain whether there are other payments accruing to the parties and when and how they will be settled

4. To explain why this matter has been shrouded in so much secrecy and if there are elements of negligence or omission by any of the parties and what action will be taken against them

Presently , the widow of the Captain of the vessel Mrs. Hamida S. Tumwikiyiza is lying in hospital after under-going a major operation whose costs she has to meet despite her husband having died on active duty .

Together with members of her family and the under-signed Sea-farers Association , we are asking the Minister of Transport and Communication who initiated the Commission of Inquiry to proceed with haste and tell us and other Sea users what is the status of the matter .

Kenya is a signatory of major conventions relating to sea-farers and it would be morally obliging to take actions that are in line with internationally recognized codes of conduct in relation to those who work in maritime environments .


Andrew Mwangura - Programs Coordinator Seafarers Assistance Program

Hamida Suleiman - Widow of Capt. Justus Tumwikyirize

The Relatives of the seafarers