SAA crew member arrested in Brazil
Erika Gibson, Beeld
Johannesburg - Another South African Airways (SAA) cabin crew member has been caught with several kilograms of drugs at a foreign airport.
The air steward was apprehended at São Paolo airport in Brazil shortly before she was to return to South Africa as a member of the flight crew late last week.
The woman has been working for SAA for 12 years. She apparently had 5kg of cocaine hidden on her body when she was apprehended. It was not clear how officials knew she had the drugs on her.
SAA did not comment on the incident upon enquiry on Monday. The international relations and co-operation department did however confirm the woman's arrest.
She is currently being held in São Paolo and the department will supply the necessary consular support to her if she requests it, the department's spokesperson said.
It was reliably learned that the woman is a 44-year-old Johannesburg resident, who is the single breadwinner of an unknown number of children as well as her mother.
According to her colleagues, her arrest has not been spoken about at the airline. Should she be found guilty, she will probably get several years imprisonment in a Brazilian jail, as drug smuggling is regarded as a serious crime there.
It is the fourth time that SAA cabin crew members have been involved in drug smuggling in the past two years.
In September last year, Tshidi Dlamini, 42, from Cape Town was jailed for seven years in London after she was caught with 3kg of cocaine at Heathrow airport.
The value of the drugs, which were hidden in her underwear, was R1.5m.
In 2009, the crew of two SAA flights were questioned within one month, also at Heathrow, after dugs were found in their luggage. In one incident, a cabin crew member and a security official were charged in South Africa in connection with the matter.
The woman had 50kg dagga and 4kg cocaine worth R3.5m in her suitcase.
In the other incident, 50kg dagga was found in crew members' luggage. No-one was charged in connection with this.