Two cabin crew employees from South African Airways (SAA) have been arrested in Hong Kong on drug trafficking charges.
The flight attendants were arrested separately last month after being found with drugs worth more than R45 million.
The South China Morning Post has described the drug bust as the “largest haul of its kind in the past decade."
The pair remain in custody and have already appeared before a court in Hong Kong.
Crime analyst Simone Haysom says this operation exposes how South Africa has become a transit point for illegal drugs that go from cocaine-producing countries to other markets.
She explains that Johannesburg, in particular, is a hub for various illicit commodities that are trafficked because of attractive flight connections from OR Tambo International airport.
According to Haysom, sophisticated criminal syndicates are exploiting problems with security and corruption facing OR Tambo.
We should be asking why South Africa has become so attractive as a transit point.— Simone Haysom, Senior Analyst at Global Initiative against Transnational Organised Crime
You're talking about criminal networks that have quite sophisticated levels of access.— Simone Haysom, Senior Analyst at Global Initiative against Transnational Organised Crime
Haysom explains that South Africans who work in the airline industry are often the most sought after to be drug mules.
For a long time, South Africans, particularly people working in airlines, have been vulnerable to being recruited as mules.— Simone Haysom, Senior Analyst at Global Initiative against Transnational Organised Crime
It's presented as an easy way to make money and people aren't really told that they are at a huge amount of risk, they are told they are going to be protected.— Simone Haysom, Senior Analyst at Global Initiative against Transnational Organised Crime
Haysom advises that law enforcement in South Africa should be improving their crime intelligence on organised crime.
Listen to the conversation with CapeTalk's Lester Kiewit:
This article first appeared on CapeTalk : OR Tambo is a top transit point for illegal trade, says analyst on SAA drug bust