Monyela can't confirm 'mule' arrests

STASH: Problem drugs
STASH: Problem drugs

THE Department of International Relations and Cooperation has denied knowledge of the arrest of two South African women in Zimbabwe and Mozambique.

News broke yesterday that an unidentified South African woman was arrested in Harare for trafficking 2kg of cocaine and that of another, Promise Mpala, in Mozambique. She was arrested after travelling from Addis Ababa.

Departmental spokesperson Clayson Monyela said: "We can only confirm the arrest of a woman who is being detained in Nigeria.

"We cannot confirm the other two. Officials from those countries have to notify us of the arrests. We have not been notified by these countries."

The department said it was providing consular support to Fikile Happy-girl Nene, who was arrested in Nigeria last week. Nene was detained at Lagos International Airport after she and a Nigerian accomplice tried to board a plane to Malaysia.

"We will render consular support to individuals and their families as soon as we are notified," Monyela said.

The news of these arrests follow headline-grabbing stories of a young Grahamstown woman, Nolubabalo Nobanda, who was arrested in Thailand two weeks ago after airport security personnel confiscated 1.5kg of cocaine that was hidden in fake dreadlocks.

That story came only a few hours after 36-year-old Janice Linden of KwaZulu-Natal was executed in China. She had been arrested at Baiyun Airport in China three years ago after being caught trying to smuggle 3kg of tik (crystal methamphetamine) into the country.

According to crime experts, the volume of drugs trafficked through southern Africa to markets in Europe and Asia has surged.

Organised Crime Senior Researcher Arnette Hubschle said: "South Africa is a huge link in the international drug-trafficking chain. These crime networks are not only into drugs, but into other illicit trading as well."

What is more shocking - but perhaps not surprising - is what Hubschle wrote about it in 2008, before the country pre-occupied itself with drug-trafficking.

"Arresting a mule will seldom lead to the source or curb supply of the drug. Mules are pawns, easily replaced by others who are vulnerable due to their socio-economic conditions," she said.

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