What does your job do for you? That must have been the question some of the 15 SAA crew members asked themselves before considering using the one benefit not written into their contracts: they and their luggage are unlikely to be searched at international airports.
Or so they thought. Sometimes your luck is in and the sniffer dogs are off duty and you get to take a bit of extra luggage with you on your way to London. But guys, it doesn't take a genius to work out that being caught once has put you in the spotlight. Come on.
The jury is still out on the flight attendants' level of job satisfaction after several arrests were made at Heathrow when drugs were found in a bag belonging to a crew member on Monday. And this is the killer: it's the second time in less than a month. Last time it was 54kg of drugs (mostly dagga) worth R4,3 million and this time 5kg of cocaine worth almost R3,5 million. This is indeed enough to bolster any dwindling pension fund.
Can you see the ad? Join the SAA and aim for a high level of job satisfaction.
But seriously, guys. Cocaine is a drug that kills, and could not have been transported for any other reason than filthy lucre. Shame on you.
Earl's Court vs the foothills of the Drakensberg
The stash was down, this time, from 54kg to 5kg, but the value almost the same. So the guilty parties have decided to go for quality over quantity. Well, it's tidier, and easier to carry.
But the dagga from the last round is, on a level, easier to spin into a less destructive story. Every self-respecting Saffer in London knows that the stuff just does not grow as well in the backyard of a ground-floor bedsit in Earl's Court as it does on the foothills of the Drakensberg. It’s like trying to have a decent braai in East Finchley in January. Sometimes you just have to admit defeat.
So maybe the SAA crew members were just trying to help out a few depressed expats. Maybe they also had Mrs Balls Chutney and vacuum-packed biltong in their luggage. And a few kilos of African sunshine.
And, of course, there is a growing trend towards the decriminilisation of marijuana.
In the recent US presidential elections, for instance, mini-referendums were held in many of the states. Both Massachusetts and Michigan approved marijuana under certain very strict provisos.
They join, amongst others, California, which has had a progressive policy in place for some years. In the city of Los Angeles, for instance, there are 24-hour medical marijuana vending machines. This is only available to people carrying cards authorising their use of the drug. So, no late-night, post-club forays to the dagga ATM for the majority of people.
The medical use of marijuana
Marijuana is said to alleviate chronic pain and counteract loss of appetite in patients. On the latter, the jury is still out, and some studies suggest that it doesn't alleviate pain effectively either. An Austrian study found that oral cannabis (a form of medical marijuana) was ineffective in treating certain types of acute pain and actually increased sensitivity to some other kinds of discomfort.
The researchers admitted they were surprised to find an absence of any form of analgesic activity of THC-standardised cannabis extract during their study and instead found that high doses of cannabinoids may even caused increased sensitivity in certain pain conditions.
This is contrary to previous research which implied that cannabis and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC - the main psychoactive component of marijuana) may help ease chronic pain in cancer patients, spinal cord injury patients, and people with multiple sclerosis. Yet the researchers stand by their findings and described them as "conclusive".
So if those of the SAA flight crew who were behind the dagga deal were hoping to help out Aunty Sybil in Hampstead who suffers so terribly from gout in the cold, they were, perhaps, misguided.
But there is simply no such excuse for the 5kg of cocaine, guys.
Sources: HealthDay News, Reuters Health, Health24.com
(Susan Erasmus, Health24, February 2009)
The last word on dagga