By Alagie Manneh
The Gambia Maritime Administration has said that the case involving a Gambian sailor who died in a vessel is not over, promising it will make a formal request to Togo for a complete investigation into the matter.
“The Togolese authorities will investigate and determine what happened to him, what medicine was given to him and his state or condition on the ship before his demise,” Wandifa Saidy, the head of GMA’s technical department, said in a media briefing yesterday at the GMA head office in Bijilo.
Samba Saidy, 39, died in a vessel in Gabon after he reportedly fell sick on board. An autopsy report later confirmed that Mr Saidy died of natural causes however, his widow, Maimuna Trawally disputed those claims, saying “foul play” was involved in her husband’s death.
At a media briefing Wednesday, the weeping widow said some of the crew members said her husband had a headache, while others said it was a stomachache.
“We tried to talk to the ship captain, but he said he has no business talking to us. So, I went to Interpol and opened a case file there because I suspected foul play. They said a family member gave his consent for the burial there in Togo because the body had decomposed but that is a lie. Based on a video, the body wasn’t even decomposed,” she explained.
Madam Trawally said she is only interested in justice.
“Why should we be denied access to the body and why did the doctors report come a month after his demise?”
Attended by family members of Mr Samba and representatives of the vessel Hawa, the meeting was characterised by counter statements between the two sides.
The representative of Hawa, Yahya Dukureh, accused the widow of tarnishing his reputation in newspapers and radios.
He told the gathering that his delegation was attacked by bereaved women when it went to pay their last respects at the Saidy family home.
“The women started yelling at us and accusing us. One lady there even grabbed me by the collar,” he said. “Then, the woman [widow] went to the radios and newspapers saying we are responsible for her husband’s demise. I wanted to go out and debunk her statements, but I did not.”
After keenly listening to their statements, the director general of GMA, Karamo Janneh, said the matter is anything but over.
“The police, the GMA, the immigration and Interpol will all be involved,” he stated.
He said the parties were involved to give their sides of the events of details leading up to Mr Saidy’s death and thereafter.
The head of the Association of Gambian Sailors, Abdoulie Sanyang, said they had wanted the GMA to help them repatriate the body to The Gambia. He said that he knew the victim, Mr Saidy, having worked with him on “many occasions”.
The ship owner’s representative brought a bag of money to the meeting, saying that was payment and benefits for the works that the late Mr Saidy had done for the vessel. He said it was over 4 million CFA, but the GMA officials refused to take the money, and instructed the man to instead take it to the Qadi court in Kanifing.