THE South African government says it was making every effort to secure the release of millions of rands in new notes which were in a cargo plane seized in Harare by authorities who found a dead body on board.
The US based Western Global Airlines freight plane was en-route to South Africa’s port city of Durban on Sunday when it lost signal and made an unscheduled landing at Harare International Airport.
South African ambassador to Zimbabwe Vusi Mavimbela said two South Africa Reserve Bank (SARB) officials on board and the crew are assisting with investigations.
The plane was carrying rand notes printed in Munich, Germany, when it made the emergency stop in Harare.
During refueling, blood was discovered in a crevice on the side of the Western Global Airlines, a US based freight company.
A man’s body was retrieved.
“This is an international aircraft, a private company that had been hired by the South African Reserve Bank not for the first time to deliver cargo from Munich,” Mavimbela said.
South Africa says that the plane had arrived from another hire from Entebbe Uganga.
A new crew, including two Reserve Bank officials, boarded the plane in Munich. The pilot noticed blood on the plane but assumed it was that of a bird.
Zimbabwe is holding on to the plane and cargo until investigations are completed.
Mavimbela said: “Our primary objective right now is that the cargo needs to be released. SARB has produced the documentation that it is authentic and Munich has also produced confirmation that cargo belongs to the South African Reserve Bank.”
The South Africa Reserve Bank is speculating that the man yet to be identified is a stowaway.
Meanwhile, the cabin crew of the cargo plane has professed ignorance over the existence of the corpse on the air craft.
Mavimbela said officials from the South African central bank and the cabin crew professed ignorance over the body.
Zimbabwe’s Minister of Transport and Infrastructural Development, Joram Gumbo described the incident as a diplomatic issue, adding that the release of the cargo plane is now being spearheaded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Zimbabwe Republic Police National Spokesperson, Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba said they are keen to establish the cause of the death and other critical issues.