Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The drug-smuggling fools of SAA

More than four years ago, in April 2006, South African Airways (SAA) admitted that they were battling to control a growing drug-smuggling epidemic among their own staff. Investigative news reports back in the year 2006 also revealed that, in addition to the arrests of airline staff on charges of cocaine and dagga smuggling over the past seven months, at least seven other SAA employees, including a pilot, had been arrested in countries such as Brazil, Australia and the United Kingdom since the year 2000. The news report, dated 29 April 2006, can be viewed here.

On 20 January 2009, fifteen SAA crew members (the entire crew) were detained by British authorities at Heathrow Airport. They were released without being charged, presumably because the 50 kilograms of cannabis and four kilos of cocaine were not found on their person, but among items of luggage on the aircraft. (Click here for the news report)

SAA said at the time that it had a "zero tolerance approach towards the use of the airline's services for any criminal activity," … but hardly one month later, on 15 February 2009, fifteen crew members on a South African Airways (SAA) flight were AGAIN arrested after cocaine with a street value of £250,000 was seized at Heathrow. The South African media described the drug bust as “a national embarrassment.

Despite public outcry and the media’s extensive coverage of the these drug busts, SAA staff members defiantly continued with their drug smuggling activities. Near the end of August 2009 Heathrow officials AGAIN arrested fifteen SAA crew members after finding 2kg of cocaine in a crew member's vanity case. By then respectable South African pilots were becoming rather fedup of being arrested for the illegal and irresponsible actions of other crewmembers.

"We are angry that six of our pilot colleagues have been arrested and subjected to police interrogation because other individuals chose to allegedly smuggle drugs into London," said Captain Jimmy Conroy, chairman of the pilots' association (Source).

Naturally, (as per the norm nowadays) the race or skin-colour of the “other individuals” spoken of are seldom mentioned in public statements. The only time one can make any valid deductions concerning race, is when the media, on the odd occasion, actually mention the name(s) of the suspect(s). Surnames such as Dlamini, Hlahane, Matlhara, Luthuli, and so forth… are some of the names that have featured among the SAA’s irresponsible and stupid staff members. I say “stupid” because anyone who tries to smuggle drugs for the love of money must be as thick as two short planks!

I also cannot help but wonder on how many occasions illegal drugs on SAA flights have managed to slip through customs, and what the total value of those drugs were. Obviously those ‘undetected’ cases provided sufficient inspiration for the SAA criminals, even senior flight attendants, to continue unashamedly with their drug smuggling activities.

In June 2010 the media reported yet another attempt by an SAA crew member to smuggle drugs through Heathrow International Airport. The cocaine allegedly found on Elphia Dlamini (42), a SAA hostess, was worth an estimated £120 000 (R1,365600). This time round the British justice system did not beat about the bush. Her case, from arrest to conviction, was finalised in just three months, - a feat the South African justice system can only dream of achieving, even when suspects plead guilty!

Well done to the British authorities involved , and also to that splendid sniffer-dog, called Clever Trevor, - gooood doggie!

I hope this case serves as a warning for all the dumb drug-mules out there that the love of money is the root of all evil, and that if you yearn (covet) after it for too long, you will eventually pierce yourself through with many sorrows – (I Timothy 6:10 - KJV).

(It’s a real pity those idiots involved with the killing of our precious rhino never fully understand the reasoning and wisdom of biblical scripture, but this is what happens when people choose to rather follow the Way of Cain!)


SAA hostess jailed for drugs (Pretoria News)

THREE KILOGRAMS of cocaine hidden in underwear and a random encounter with a dog nicknamed Clever Trevor has ended with a SAA hostess receiving seven years in a UK jail.

Elphia Dlamini, 42, was sentenced in the Isleworth Crown Court on Friday after being found guilty of trying to smuggle R1.3 million worth of cocaine through Heathrow Airport in June.

She had worked for SAA for 15 years as an in-flight service co-ordinator. Her case, from arrest to conviction, was finalised in just three months.

Dlamini was caught at about 8am on June 26 after she had cut the cocaine into three parcels and, using tape, strapped the class-A drug tightly against her body, concealing it in her bra and panties.

But little did she know when she arrived at Heathrow that she would meet Clever Trevor, a springer spaniel trained in drug scent sniffing. He had been brought in for the random check on SAA flight SA236 from Joburg to Heathrow.

Within minutes, the spaniel sniffed out the cocaine.

A British court charged Dlamini with attempting to import a class-A drug.

According to the UK Border Agency, Dlamini immediately admitted carrying drugs, and officers seized three wrapped packages concealed in her underwear.

On August 17, Dlamini pleaded guilty to the charges at the Uxbridge Magistrate’s Court.

Last night, SAA spokesman Fanie Zulu said technically Dlamini was still an employee, as she had not yet faced disciplinary action.

SAA, however, regarded the arrest as a personal matter. (Okay, so they’ve now changed their tune!)

“We wanted to allow the law to take its course. The wheels of justice have turned, and they have turned very fast,” he said. (Eish, the British, they’re too fast!)

Zulu said SAA was in the process of getting the court records.

Peter Avery, assistant director at the UK Border Agency’s criminal and financial investigations directorate, said: “This drug-smuggling attempt is particularly serious because this woman has sought to abuse her position.

“This case shows that there is no one type of drug smuggler. We’ve got our eye on everyone coming into and out of the UK. We will stop at nothing to prevent drugs, offensive weapons, contra-band and illegal immigrants crossing our border. (Great, so now I’m also going to be searched in secret places covered by my underwear!)

“Cocaine is a dangerous class-A drug which destroys lives and leads to wider social problems. We, and the courts, take a very dim view of cocaine smuggling.” It is not the first time SAA employees have been arrested in Britain in connection with drug smuggling. (…and it will not be the last, because there are an incredibly amount of stupid people living in South Africa. The numbers are growing by the day!)

Last year, two SAA crews were arrested in separate busts.

In January, on a flight from Joburg to Heathrow, 50kg of cannabis and 4kg of cocaine were found in crew members’ luggage.

All 15 of the crew members on that flight were released on bail after their DNA and fingerprints were taken. Charges against 14 of the staff were dropped while police investigated one crew member. The whole case has since been dropped.

Then, a month later, UK police found 2kg of cocaine in the luggage allegedly belonging to a crew member. Two people – security officer Pulane Hlahane and SAA employee Mmatshuma Matlhara – were arrested two days later. Both have been successfully prosecuted.


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