Saturday, January 24, 2009

South African Airways has failed miserably in their effort to combat crime and corruption within their own ranks.

Nearly nine years ago in May 2000 the Sunday Times reported that the South African Airways (SAA) was investigating allegations that members of its staff were involved in prostitution, bribery, money laundering and smuggling. The newspaper reported that more than 90 employees had been suspended pending an inquiry, after the company used phone taps and security cameras to monitor the activities of its staff. Investigations back then revealed that cabin attendants were involved in drug trafficking and other illegal activities. Unfortunately, I was unable to find any follow-up information on this specific story, but the latest incident (21 January 2009) at Heathrow airport involving the seizure of cannabis (dagga) and cocaine with a street value of £310,000, implicating crew members on flight SAA 234 from Johannesburg, plus a series of similar incidents since the year 2000, is more than sufficient confirmation that SAA has failed miserably in their effort to combat crime and corruption within their own ranks.

For the record, I’ve included a few snippets of info concerning similar cases:
Goodness knows how many “unreported” cases there are!

25 March 2006 – Inside Job
A gang of 25 robbers made off with R67,2-million in US dollar bills at Johannesburg International Airport. Three airport officials employed by Airports Company South Africa (ACSA), were arrested for their involvement in the multi-million dollar heist. Source:

During April 2006 the South African media reported two large drug busts at the Johannesburg International Airport.
Cocaine with an estimated value of R64-million was confiscated. South African Revenue Service (SARS) custom officials found narcotics concealed in the wooden handles of women's handbags as part of cargo freight on a SAA flight from Sao Paulo airport in Brazil to Johannesburg.

On 29 April 2006, the media reported that South African Airways was battling to control a growing drug-smuggling epidemic among its own staff
- with three stewards arrested on charges of cocaine and dagga smuggling in the past seven months. In one of these incidents a stewardess, Lindiwe Harriet Luthuli, 40, pleaded guilty to smuggling 5kg of cocaine and 10kg of herbal cannabis - valued at about £325 000 (more than R3,5-million) - into the United Kingdom. Luthuli arrived in the early hours of April 10, after she had arrived on SAA flight 234 from Johannesburg, --- the same flight number involved in the most recent drug bust!

Investigative news reports back in 2006 also revealed that, in addition to Luthuli, at least seven other SAA employees, including a pilot, had been arrested in countries such as Brazil, Australia and the United Kingdom since 2000.

Concerning the latest incident at Heathrow Airport this month, a spokeswoman for the SAA stated that the company was taking the discovery of the drugs "extremely seriously" and had provided the crew with legal representation. Ja, ja – bla, bla bla! Typical democratic crap! First take care of the interests and rights of the suspected criminals! I think it’s time that management at SAA get off their fat butts and do something constructive, like sending crew members to a drug rehab for a month to see what illegal drugs actually do to the minds of our kids.

Read also, --- An eyewitness account of bribery and corruption at the O.R. Tambo International Airport, JHB.


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