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Moroccan company accuses South Africa of political piracy

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Staff Writer | July 14, 2017
vessel Cherry Blossom
Shipping   54,000 tonne shipment

Morocco's state run company OCP has accused South Africa of "political piracy" over a $5 million shipment of phosphate bound for New Zealand.

OCP has decided to stop continuing with a court case to try and win back the Ballance Agri-Nutrients 54,000 tonne shipment, which has now been detained for 73 days in Port Elizabeth.

The vessel Cherry Blossom has been held up by an application from the Polisario Front, which seeks the independence of Western Sahara. Morocco considers the disputed region belongs to it, and has proposed it be granted autonomy but not independence.

Ballance chief executive Mark Wynne said the decision by OCP was a "pragmatic solution" because the case could have dragged on in the court for months if not years.

"The cargo is destined for us but we don't own it so OCP will be the loser in this situation. The financial implication for us is around the vessel because we have to pay for it, but because we are covered by insurance the impact is zero."

Wynne vowed Ballance would continue to buy fertiliser that was mined in the contested region.

"Legally and ethically we are comfortable with buying it, and the Moroccans will continue to mine it."

Wynne said he envisaged the cargo would be given to Polisario by the court, and it was likely it would go back on the market, enabling the vessel to be released.

OCP Group Refuses to Participate in South Africa Trial: "Today, we notified the Registrar of the South African Court that OCP SA and its subsidiary Phosboucraa will not participate in a trial relating to the seizure of a vessel transporting our phosphate cargo through South African waters.

"We do not have the slightest doubt of our capacity to prevail on the merits of the facts and the rule of law in an unbiased forum.

"However, we have reluctantly come to the conclusion that participating in any trial before this forum would give further credit to a process without any legal legitimacy.

"Not only has the Court ruled in this matter in ways that contradict basic principles of international law, but its decision also constitutes a serious and dangerous interference in the ongoing negotiating process conducted under the auspices of the UN Security Council."


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