Mogae fleeced at airport

On his way back, the president fell victim to airport criminals. It has been revealed that some of the presents he got from Sweden were stolen, possibly at an airport in South Africa.

Mogae and his delegation that included First Lady Barbara, Minister of Foreign Affairs Mompati Merafhe and other government officials used a commercial flight on their way back to Botswana because the presidential jet was not in good condition after the emergency landing in Athens.

“We don’t know exactly where the luggage was stolen because we only learned about the theft after arriving in Botswana,” Presidential Personal Secretary at State House Nkoloi Nkoloi said this week.

He said their flight took them through Cape Town and thereafter connected to Botswana. He added that they did not know the value of the stolen goods they received as presents in Sweden.

The goods have not been recovered yet. A source informed Mmegi that some of the presents that included jewellery bore the president’s names. He got them from the Sweedish royal family. While in Sweden, Mogae visited King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Sylvia.

There have been numerous complaints from people claiming that they have had their luggage searched and goods stolen at South African airports. Johannesburg International Airport, the biggest in Africa, is famous for theft of checked-in luggage.

The Carte Blanche website says the airport experienced a string of heists in the past five years. The thieves target goods like digital cameras, suits, shoes and expensive clothes.

At times, the website said, the crooks exchange people’s goods and there is fear among air travellers that they might put drugs in other people’s bags.

They commit the crime because they have enough time to scan through luggage and choose what to take.

It is also difficult for travellers to recover their stolen goods because the luggage passes through four different check points before the owner can collect and reporting the matter would be a waste of time.

Many of the victims interviewed said that they found that their belongings were missing only after arriving at their destination. ‘ Mmegi.

June 2006
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