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SA cruise worker charged in US with ‘intent to murder’ after stabbing spree on ship

SA cruise worker charged in US with ‘intent to murder’ after stabbing spree on ship
The Norwegian Encore. (Photo: X). Scissors image: Vecteezy

A South African cruise ship worker has been charged with several counts of assault after he allegedly grabbed medical scissors while aboard the vessel and stabbed individuals, including two security guards.

Last month Ntando Sogoni, of South Africa, joined the crew of a cruise ship while it was in the US. 

But within days the 35-year-old was behind bars, and now faces several assault charges in the US that could see him spending several years, if not a decade or more, in jail.

Sogoni’s mental health has also been flagged as a potential concern.

‘Memorable moments’

The job he started last month was aboard the vessel, the Norwegian Encore. It is described online as “a ship built for non-stop memorable moments” and boasts “the largest race track at sea”.

It can accommodate up to nearly 4,000 guests.

Roughly a day after starting his job on the ship, on 6 May 2024, other staffers saw Sogoni allegedly trying to deploy a lifeboat from it – it was not clear what had sparked his behaviour.

According to a statement issued a day later by the US Attorney’s Office for the District of Alaska, security personnel had approached Sogoni and accompanied him to a medical centre on the ship so he could be assessed.

Scissor stabbings

“Upon arrival, Sogoni physically attacked a security guard and a male nurse inside an examination room and proceeded to enter another examination room where a woman, who is a US citizen, was being examined,” the statement said.

“He grabbed a pair of scissors and stabbed the woman multiple times in the arm, hand and face. He also stabbed two security guards who intervened – one in the head and one in the back and shoulders. Sogoni was detained and held in the ship’s jail prior to his arrest.”

Officers from the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) arrested him when the ship arrived in the Alaskan city of Juneau on 7 May.

In an affidavit, Matthew Judy, an FBI special agent, said he was involved in investigating matters “with emphasis in the areas of criminal enterprises, drugs, violent crimes, violent crimes against children, street gangs, and fugitives”.

Judy was also tasked with looking into maritime issues and in the Sogoni case, to which he was assigned, he said the incident had occurred at about 1.50am.

‘Irrational’

He explained that after security had approached Sogoni and took him to be assessed, Sogoni “became irrational and attempted to leave”.

That was when the stabbings occurred. 

Judy said the wounded US woman was 75 years old.

A subsequent statement from the US Attorney’s Office for the District of Alaska, dated 23 May 2024, said the security guard who was stabbed in the head was from the Philippines, while the other person who was stabbed in the back – his spine – was from Nepal.

“At the time of the assault, the ship was on the high seas and within the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the US, and on a voyage with a scheduled departure from or arrival in the US,” it said.

Mental health concerns

The 23 May statement added that a federal grand jury in Alaska had returned an indictment charging Sogoni with attacking three people with medical scissors.

More specifically, he was charged with “assault with intent to murder”, as well as three counts of assault with a dangerous weapon and three counts of assault resulting in grievous bodily injury.

An article on the website Alaska’s News Source, published a few days after Sogoni’s arrest, said the public defender for him, Ben Muse, had indicated he “planned to file a written motion about his client’s mental health”.

The article also said: “Federal Magistrate Judge Matthew Scoble called the evidence against Sogoni strong, saying the violent attacks appeared to be unprovoked, as he expressed concern for both Sogoni’s mental health and the community’s safety.”

‘Jarring’ incident

In a YouTube video posted the day after Sogoni’s arrest, two guests who were apparently on the Norwegian Encore, said the captain, who sounded “down” and unlike his usual chirpy self, had shared details of what had happened.

“Supposedly, a brand-new crew member, he’d just started, allegedly was caught trying to deploy a lifeboat… Security stopped him, they brought him to the medical centre and upon further evaluation he was acting very erratic, somewhat violent, and he grabbed a pair of scissors allegedly… This is pretty jarring to hear on a cruise ship.”

Sogoni made his first court appearance in Alaska on 9 May.

Based on a general breakdown of court proceedings Daily Maverick has seen, it appears that he has pleaded not guilty to seven counts against him.

If convicted, Sogoni faces up to 20 years in jail for the charge of assault with the intent to murder, and 10 years for the other assault charges. 

Daily Maverick has established that he is being detained in the Lemon Creek Correctional Center in Juneau. DM

This story first appeared in our weekly Daily Maverick 168 newspaper, which is available countrywide for R35.

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  • Gavin Knox says:

    Thos story is now over a month old, why only now does DM deem it nessary to perspective further, a deranged indervidual got this position on a renowned cruse liner and no one, no one, picked up he was a threat to other humans, … the mind boggles, but not too far…. it’s clear why..

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