Three stowaways have been admitted to hospital, one in a serious condition, after they were found hiding in the chimney of a ship that was due to leave the Port Elizabeth harbour on Monday afternoon.
The Tanzanians, aged between 28 and 33, are believed to have boarded the liquefied petroleum gas tanker, Azeri Gas, during the early hours.
They were caught during a standard stowaway search aboard the vessel before departure.
Officials confirmed that the vessel docked on Sunday afternoon from Madagascar and was preparing to depart for Saldanha Bay on Monday.
Police spokeswoman Colonel Priscilla Naidu said the three men had entered the secured section at about 1.15am and managed to board the vessel.
“The CCTV cameras picked them up boarding the ship but this was only reviewed after the men had been caught,” she said.
“The ship was preparing to depart which is why the engines were on. This in turn led to the three men inhaling fumes from the engine.”
Naidu said the men would be kept under police guard while receiving treatment.
She said it was unclear where they had come from and if they were in the country illegally.
Police would only be able to question them after they had been declared medically fit, she said.