Harare - Zimbabwe has ordered a post mortem on the decomposing body of an unknown man which fell out of a US freighter at Harare International Airport on Sunday.
The dead man, believed to be a stowaway, carried no identity on him according to Zimbabwe police.
The MD 11 aircraft from Western Cargo Airlines, made an unexpected landing for re fuelling but airport security saw blood oozing from a small cabin, known as the Electronic and Navigation Accessories, ENA, high up in the freighter. When the ENA cabin door was opened, the corpse fell out.
The plane was carrying 57 tonnes of South African currency for the Reserve Bank.
The authorities at Harare International Airport say the crew from the freighter claim they knew nothing about the dead man, nor did they know where he boarded the plane which had previously touched down in Nigeria, Belgium, Uganda and loaded cargo in Munich,
South African Ambassador to Zimbabwe Vusi Mavimbela said in Harare that officials from the Reserve Bank of South Africa and the cabin crew professed ignorance over the body.
He told the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation that the dead man could have smuggled himself into the plane and that the Reserve Bank of South Africa had appealed for the urgent release of the consignment which was due to be flown to Durban.
“The aircraft currently detained at Harare Airport is carrying a consignment of South African banknotes that was produced overseas as part of the SARB’s annual production plan,” the central bank said in a statement on its website on Tuesday.
Zimbabwe transport minister Joram Gumbo described the incident as a “diplomatic issue” and said that the release of the cargo plane was managed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Foreign Affairs minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi met with diplomats from the US, Germany, South Africa and Pakistan to help resolve the matter, according to foreign affairs secretary, Joey Bimha
Zimbabwe Republic Police National Spokesperson, Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba said they were keen to establish the cause of the man’s death and other critical issues and were in contact with Interpol.
The flight, AJK 4130 from Germany to Durban was hired by South Africa to carry money for the Reserve Bank. Germany is understood to print some of South Africa’s currency.
The pilot is alleged to have lost signal prompting him to seek an emergency landing at the Harare International Airport where the dead body was discovered.
Police will not release details of where the five man American crew is being held in Harare, but aviation insiders say they do not believe they are being held by the police but are fully co operating with all inquiries.
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