SAA moves to crack down on drug smuggling

All luggage belonging to SA Airways crew members will be physically searched, the Airports Company South Africa (Acsa) and the airline said on Monday.

Spokesperson Solomon Makgale said this was in accordance with the resolutions of a task team that included representatives from the airline, Acsa, the South African Revenue Service and the South African Police Service.

The aim of the task team was to review the additional measures put in place by the airline after the first incident in January, in which crew members were arrested at Heathrow airport after drugs were found in their luggage.

The task team was set up after a second SAA crew were arrested on February 16 at Heathrow when officials found cocaine in luggage belonging to crew members.

The task team’s recommendations also included that more sniffer dogs would be used to assist with the detection of narcotics.

Other measures included the installation of drug detection devices, the installation of updated scanner technology with narcotic detection capability by end of March 2009 and searches of both inbound and outbound aircraft.

Chris Smyth, SAA’s acting CEO, said the airline could not resolve these issues alone.

“SAA has neither the capability nor the mandate for broader policing and security matters and we have requested assistance via the task team,” he said.

He said Acsa would assume responsibility for security and processing of staff through the SAA crew centre. The changeover was expected to take place on Monday.

Bongani Maseko, Acsa’s operations director, said Acsa would continue to work with SAA, the police and customs to ensure that the resolutions of the task team were implemented.

“We wish to assure all parties concerned that every possible measure will be put in place over and above the prescribed international standards to reduce criminal activity at the crew centre.” - Sapa

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