Thirty years jail for cops who stole drugs seized from mule at OR Tambo airport
PRETORIA - Two members of the South African Police Service (SAPS), previously stationed at OR Tambo International Airport (ORTIA), have been sentenced to years imprisonment by the Kempton Park Magistrates' Court.
On Tuesday, National Prosecuting Authority’s spokesperson in Gauteng Phindi Mjonondwane said Raesibe Melda Ndukula and Faith Makhosazane Mtambo were charged together with a South African Airways (SAA) flight attendant, Lebogang Paulinah Tshabalala.
During the trial, Tshabalala entered into a plea and sentence agreement with the state.
“Tshabalala was sentenced to five years, wholly suspended sentence on condition that she will turn state witness and testify against the two officers. The officers were convicted on charges of contravention of the Drug and Drug Trafficking Act [possession of drugs], defeating the administration of justice, and theft in August 2020,” Mjonondwane said.
The police officers were sentenced on Monday.
“On 5 March 2013, Tshabalala was a flight attendant on a flight from ORTIA to Sao Paulo [Brazil]. The flight returned three days later on 8 March 2013 and Tshabalala was arrested on arrival. This is after she was found in possession of drugs by customs officials from the South African Revenue Service (SARS).”
The officials handed over the drugs to Ndukula, who in turn stole the drugs, together with Mtambo instead of retaining them as exhibits.
Gauteng deputy director of public prosecutions, Advocate Jacob Serepo, said expressed concern over the prevalence of drug-related offences at ORTIA.
He said the sentence was just, considering that approximately 1,400 grammes of drugs were involved, and that the two were law enforcement officers.
“The accused had abused the authority that they had as police officers and as such acted dishonestly,” he said.
After their conviction and sentence, the officers successfully applied for leave to appeal against both.
They will return to court to apply for bail pending their appeal to the high court on a date yet to be announced.