No evidence to charge Air Namibia employee with human trafficking

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Staff Reporter

Windhoek-The prosecution has declined to charge the Air Namibia employee, and his co-accused, arrested in connection with the alleged smuggling of 11 Angolan nationals to Germany aboard an the national airline.

According to the prosecution there is not enough evidence to charge the 32-year-old employee, who works as a check-in agent at Hosea Kutako International Airport.

The employee, who cannot be named until he is actually charged, was due to appear in court yesterday along with his accomplice, said to be a 29-year old Angolan national living in Namibia.

However, the prosecution has charged the co-accused Angolan national with staying in the country illegally, and the man remains in jail.

The two men were arrested on June 19 after the German border police detained 11 Angolan passengers, including women and children, upon arrival in Frankfurt from Windhoek, aboard the Air Namibia flight of June 12 from Hosea Kutako International Airport. The German police actions prompted an investigation by the airline, which tipped off the Namibian police, leading to the arrest of the two suspects.

Yesterday the State Prosecution at Mungunda Street Magistrate Court, where the two were to appear, asked that the docket be returned to the police investigating officer to investigate further, as there was not enough evidence to sustain a charge of human trafficking.

The investigating officer declined to comment, referring New Era to Deputy Commissioner Edwin Kanguatjivi of Nampol’s public relations division.

“I will now brief my commander, who in turn will brief the public relations department, who in turn will brief the news media,” Chief Inspector van Wyk said.

Prosecution and the police were, however, confident that they would bring criminal charges against the two for human trafficking, and only need to do a thorough investigation.

The Namibian citizen had to be released, as any suspect must be brought before a magistrate within 48 hours of arrest, but the Angolan national can be held longer in terms of Namibia’s immigration laws.

Air Namibia corporate communication manager Paul Nakawa earlier said they contacted the police after getting information from Germany.

“We received the information from the German police via our station in Frankfurt [and] we conducted a full investigation and enlisted the help of the Namibian police, which resulted in the two arrests, with further arrests expected.”

It was the airline that announced that the arrested employee works as its check-in agent at Hosea Kutako International Airport, 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.

“Please note that illegal passengers do not always travel with fraudulent passports only – sometimes they carry legitimate passports and visas obtained somehow,” he said.

“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.”

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