PRETORIA – A sealed bid auction is underway in South Africa for 55,000 tonnes of phosphate stolen by Morocco from Western Sahara.
The phosphate was seized from a ship in Port Elizabeth harbour last year bound for New Zealand.
The Port Elizabeth High Court ruled last month that the cargo aboard the NM Cherry Blossom had been illegally taken from the Western Sahara by Moroccans occupying the former Spanish colony in defiance of the international community.
The ship has been held since last May when the Polisario Front, representing the Saharawi government, claimed ownership of the cargo.
The Port Elizabeth court ruled that the ship be held, pending judgment of the case.
The court last month granted the sale order, which provides for the auction to run 30 calendar days from 19 March.