Engineer guilty of trying to strip historical shipwreck

Engineer guilty of trying to strip historical shipwreck

A chemical engineer has pleaded guilty to trying to salvage a historical shipwreck off the Nelson Mandela Bay coastline for scrap.


Cornelius Uys, 51, entered a plea bargain in court on Monday, wherein he confessed to trying to salvage scrap metal off the SS Queenmoor in March last year.


The SS Queenmoor, wrecked just west of Cape Recife in Algoa Bay on September 7 1934, and being over 60 years of age, is protected by the National Heritage Resources Act.


Uys and his son, Carl, were arrested by police while in the water at the wreck site.


They were charged with being in contravention of the National Heritage Resources Act and the Merchant Shipping Act.


The charges against his son were later dropped.


In his plea agreement Uys, a qualified chemical engineer, said he took his boat, the Capitau Rambo, out to the site on March 18 2014 with the intent of salvaging the wreckage of the SS Queensmoor for scrap metal.


He also confessed to taking equipment with him, including air hoses, a compressor, a lift bag, chains and other tools that would assist him with the proposed salvage. This equipment was in contravention of his existing operating licence for his boat.


Uys said he was aware that he was operating without any right or permit to salvage the wreck and that his actions were illegal and intentional.


His boat and equipment had been impounded pending the outcome of the case, and as such, due to a lack of income as a salvage diver, he and his son were forced to move to Kleinbrak near Mossel Bay to live in a holiday house he recently inherited from his father.


He said he was largely dependent on his brother for financial support.


Uys was fined R4 000 and received a sentence of 18 months prison time, suspended for a period of five years, on condition that he is not found guilty of a similar offence.

Author: Derrick Spies,  News24

Newswire ID: 3038

File photo: Gallo Images

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