Durban - In less than 24 hours, two South Africans – both travelling from São Paulo, Brazil – were caught allegedly trying to smuggle drugs into the country.
A tip-off led to the arrest of a 43-year-old man at King Shaka International Airport, on Monday night.
He was found with 1.5kg of cocaine wrapped in a bag and strapped to his body.
The drugs are estimated to have a street value of about R800 000.
It was unclear whether the man is from KwaZulu-Natal, police said.
On Sunday, a 53-year-old woman from eManzimtoti was nabbed after police allegedly found 1.16kg of cocaine valued at more than R540 000, strapped to her body.
A police source said the woman had already been profiled when she left the country early last month.
“She has been on our watch list. According to the information we have, the drugs were destined for a Nigerian syndicate operating in the Durban CBD.”
The source said on her arrest, the woman claimed she had been recruited as a drug mule by a Nigerian, adding she had not yet been paid for the job.
Payment was promised on delivery of the drugs.
“When she arrived in customs, she was very nervous. We allowed her to pass through before she was arrested.”
Both suspects had travelled via Dubai.
On Monday, customs officials and members of the Durban Organised Crime Unit were tipped off that another drug mule was on a flight from São Paulo to Durban.
He was arrested and is expected to appear in the Verulam Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday on a charge of possession of drugs.
Police spokesman, Captain Thulani Zwane, said the woman was arrested on Sunday evening after local authorities received information that she was flying in from Dubai.
“We were tipped off that she was on a flight from Dubai International Airport to King Shaka,” Zwane said.
The drugs were wrapped in foil and strapped to her torso.
She appeared in the Verulam Magistrate’s Court on Monday on possession of drugs charges.
The matter was adjourned to February 24 for a bail application.
Airports Company SA spokesman, Colin Naidoo, said the woman had arrived on an Emirates flight from Dubai.
“This is the third drug bust this year and the teams working together – SAPS, airport security and customs – are really doing a good job in stopping drugs from reaching our streets,” he said.
Last year a couple travelling from India were arrested at the airport when R6.5 million worth of from methamphetamine or crystal meth was allegedly found in their possession.
And a Bolivian student was arrested in November after he was caught, allegedly with 2kg of cocaine.
“We have increased security measures at the airport and are getting information from the public about drug smuggling,” said Zwane, commenting on the high number of arrests.
KwaZulu-Natal provincial commissioner, Lieutenant General Mmamonnye Ngobeni, praised those involved in the arrests.
Ngobeni said: “This is a second major drug bust in two days at King Shaka International Airport.
“This shows that we have increased our security measures in preventing drugs from entering our province through the airport.”