Windhoek-The national airline, Air Namibia, has found its livery dragged into the mud after one of its cabin attendants was caught trafficking drugs in one of its planes. The incident, which took place on December 16, and had seemingly gone unnoticed by the media, took place on the aircraft that was bound to depart for Frankfurt.
The issue came to light after some of Air Namibia’ staff members accused the airline of attempting to hide the incident to save itself embarrassment in the market.
Air Namibia has however denied the allegations, telling New Era that it has taken decisive action against the suspected employee.
On December 16, 2016, police at Hosea Kutako International Airport found “suspicious substance” hidden in a cabin attendant’s check-in luggage.
The suspicious substance, which police confirmed to be drugs worth over a million dollars, was discovered during a routine inspection prior to the departure of Air Namibia’s plane to Frankfurt, Germany. The drugs, believed to be cocaine, are said to have a street value of between N$1 million and N$2 million.
The cabin attendant, who made his first court appearance on December 27, has been identified as Percival Mensah. He is out on bail of N$10 000, according to court records. He is scheduled to appear again in court on May 10, at Hosea Kutako Magistrate’s Court, together with his co-accused Hill Clint Chundve.
Air Namibia’s senior manager for sales and marketing, Wimpie van Vuuren, upon enquiry, told New Era that Mensah “is currently on suspension pending the outcome of the police investigation and other possible actions.”
According to information provided to New Era, cabin attendants scheduled to operate aboard the Air Namibia flight to Frankfurt that day were in a pre-flight meeting at the airport when the police walked in on the meeting asking cabin attendants to identify the luggage found with concealed drugs. No one claimed ownership of the check-in bag.
Mensah is said to have immediately disappeared from the airport.
As a result that day’s flight to Frankfurt was delayed. Mensah handed himself over to the police days later.
“We can confirm that on 16 December 2016, during the processing of the crew luggage, a bag with suspicious substance was detected. The Namibian police took control and the said member did not operate on the said flight,” said Van Vuuren.
According to court records the charge sheet for Mensah and Chundve was sent back to the police for further investigations and charges to be added.
Meanwhile, Van Vuuren has dismissed the allegations that the airline is covering up Mensah’s crime to save itself embarrassment.
“The mentioned case is handled in the same procedure as any other. The company did suspend the employee and needs to allow the police to conclude their investigation. The Air Namibia disciplinary procedure will certainly be followed depending on the outcome of the police investigation,” he said.
Van Vuuren maintained that Air Namibia has a detailed Drug and Alcohol Policy that deals with any drug-related incident and a zero tolerance policy towards any drug trafficking.
“All Air Namibia employees and passengers are subject to the normal screening process that any commercial passenger will be subject to at the various airports Air Namibia operate from. This incident clearly demonstrates that the system works.”
He says the airline would always ensure that full compliance and adherence of any requirement at the airports are enforced. “We do support the safeguarding of our borders and entry points against any illegal activities,” he said.