Windhoek-Police on Monday arrested an Air Namibia employee and another individual for allegedly facilitating the illegal travel of 11 Angolan nationals aboard the airline’s flight to Frankfurt, Germany.
The German border police detained the passengers, who included women and children, upon arrival in Frankfurt from Windhoek, aboard the flight of June 12 from Hosea Kutako International Airport.
Although the Namibian police yesterday claimed not to have all details regarding the arrest of the two persons in Windhoek, Air Namibia confirmed the arrests. The national airline said the arrest of its employee and the accomplice was a result of cooperation between Air Namibia and the police.
“Once we received the information from the German police via our station in Frankfurt,we conducted a full investigation and enlisted the help of the Namibian police, which has resulted in the two arrests with further arrests expected,” said Air Namibia’s corporate communication manager, Paul Nakawa. The two suspects in Namibia were arrested on June 19. They are scheduled to appear in court today, 21 June.
According to the airline, the arrested employee works at Hosea Kutako International Airport as a check-in agent, while the accomplice “is a private individual suspected of being an Angolan national illegally residing in Namibia since 2016”.
It is not clear how exactly and whether or not the 11 Angolan nationals passed through security and border checks with proper travel documentations, or whether they had fake travel documentation. Nakawa would not comment in detail, saying only that the matter is under police investigation.
“We wish to express our sincere appreciation to NamPol for the speedy action, cooperation and support,” he said, adding that there were “criminal syndicates who facilitate this kind of activity and who bribe some of our employees to facilitate this type of crime.
“Please note that illegal passengers do not always travel with fraudulent passports only – sometimes they carry legitimate passports and visas obtained somehow,” he said.
He was emphatic that Air Namibia “takes the security of our passengers and aircraft and our international obligations very seriously. “We have procedures and processes in place to detect illegal passengers. Our staff are trained to detect illegal passengers and sometimes use this knowledge to facilitate criminal activity for personal gain as possibly happened in this case,” he said.
The problem of inadmissible or illegal passengers is an international problem that all airlines have to deal with. “The motives for such illegal migration vary from the personal, political and economic reasons to criminal, such as human trafficking,” he said.
He pointed to an incident that took place a couple of months ago when the national airline denied boarding to a group of Zimbabweans, who were booked to travel from Windhoek to Frankfurt, with Istanbul as their final destination.
“The message from the Namibian police and Air Namibia is that we will not allow our country and airline to be used by criminal syndicates for human trafficking and other crimes. And we will deal harshly and to the full extent of the law with anyone involved in these criminal activities,” he said.