Security guard arrested over SAA drug haul

South Africa’s police have arrested an OR Tambo International Airport security guard on drug-trafficking charges following the detention of 15 South African Airways (SAA) crew members this week, a spokesperson said on Thursday.

The woman was arrested on Wednesday night as the cabin crew flew back to South Africa after being questioned in connection with the discovery of 50kg of dagga allegedly found in three pieces of luggage by police at London’s Heathrow Airport.

Senior Superintendent Tummi Golding said the woman “basically confessed” and police are in the throes of arresting people she implicated.

She would face charges of drug trafficking and allowing drugs to leave the country without informing authorities.

Fingerprints and DNA samples of the crew taken by authorities in the UK had also been passed on to South African investigators, Golding said.

The Airports Company of South Africa had distanced itself from the incident, saying SAA was responsible for the screening of its crews’ bags.

The national carrier said a review of the current security system was underway and they were working with the police’s crime intelligence unit on the matter, as well as conducting its own internal investigation.

SAA spokesperson Robyn Chalmers said any employee arrested and charged would be suspended in line with the airline’s “zero tolerance” approach to criminal activity, and fired if found guilty.—Sapa

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