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7-Years Jail To Airhostess For Smuggling Cocaine In Knickers And Bra

London: An airhostess of South African Airlines has been sentenced to seven years imprisonment by a British court on the charge of  trying to smuggle 3 kg of cocaine worth nearly 300,000 pounds into the
PTI September 28, 2010 10:55 IST
PTI
London: An airhostess of South African Airlines has been sentenced to seven years imprisonment by a British court on the charge of  trying to smuggle 3 kg of cocaine worth nearly 300,000 pounds into the UK, in her knickers and bra, the UK Border Agency reported.

In echo of the movie 'Jackie Brown', Elphia Dlamini of the South African airlines arrived at Heathrow from Johannesburg with cocaine.

Elphia Dlamini, 42, from Cape Town tried to smuggle cocaine in her bra and underpants in June, the agency said in a statement.

She first appeared in the Uxbridge Magistrate's Court in August where she pleaded guilty for importing a Class A drug into the country. Dlamini was sentenced on Friday in the Isleworth Crown Court.



The flight attendant had been on a flight from Johannesburg to London Heathrow when she was caught .

Upon landing at Heathrow, the entire crew was subjected to customs examination, led by a sniffer dog nicknamed "Clever Trevor" by officers. When passing Dlamini, the Springer Spaniel quickly indicated to his handler that he had picked up the scent of cocaine.

Dlamini immediately admitted carrying drugs and officers seized three wrapped packages that were concealed in her underwear.

Three kilograms of cocaine were found in her possession which was valued at R221,400.

Assistant director of Criminal and Financial Investigations directorate, at the UK Border Agency, Peter Avery said "this drug smuggling attempt is particularly serious because this woman has sought to abuse her position, thinking the UK Border Agency would pay less attention to airline and airport staff. That's simply not true.”

She had worked for SAA for 15 years as an in-flight service co-ordinator, an experienced steward. Her case, from arrest to conviction, was finalised in just three months.

Dlamini was caught at around 8am on June 26 after she had cut the cocaine into three parcels and, using tape, strapped the class-A drug tightly against her body, concealing it in her bra and panties.

But little did she know when she arrived at Heathrow that she would meet Clever Trevor, a springer spaniel trained in drug scent sniffing.

He had been brought in for the random check on SAA flight SA236 from Joburg to Heathrow. Within minutes, the spaniel sniffed out the cocaine.

According to the UK Border Agency, Dlamini immediately admitted carrying drugs, and officers seized three wrapped packages concealed in her underwear.

On August 17, Dlamini pleaded guilty to the charges at the Uxbridge Magistrate's Court.

 SAA spokesman Fanie Zulu said that technically Dlamini was still an employee of the company, as she had not yet faced disciplinary action. SAA, however, regarded the arrest as a personal matter.

“For us it has been very clear. We wanted to allow the law to take its course, and the wheels of justice have turned. And they have turned very fast,” he said.

Zulu said SAA were in the process of getting the court records for the matter.  “We obviously had a very keen interest in how the matter proceeded,” Zulu said.

Peter Avery, assistant director at the UK Border Agency's criminal and financial investigations directorate, said: “This drug-smuggling attempt is particularly serious because this woman has sought to abuse her position, thinking the UK Border Agency would pay less attention to airline and airport staff. That's simply not true.

“This case shows that there is no one type of drug smuggler, and we've got our eye on everyone coming into and out of the UK. We will stop at nothing to prevent drugs, offensive weapons, other contraband and illegal immigrants crossing our border.

“Cocaine is a very dangerous class-A drug which destroys people's lives and leads to wider social problems. We, and the courts, take a very dim view of cocaine smuggling.”

It is not the first time that SAA employees have been arrested in Britain in connection with drug smuggling

Last year, two SAA crews were arrested in separate busts. In January, on a flight from Joburg to Heathrow, 50kg of cannabis and 4kg of cocaine were found in crew members' luggage. All 15 of the crew members on the relevant flight were released on bail after their DNA and fingerprints were taken.

Charges against 14 of the staff members were dropped while police investigated one crew member. The whole case has since been dropped. Then, a month later, UK police found 2kg of cocaine in the luggage allegedly belonging to a crew member.

Two people – security officer Pulane Hlahane and SAA employee Mmatshuma Matlhara – were arrested two days later. Both have been successfully prosecuted.