A 28-YEAR-OLD Zambian woman’s dream of running a successful business of supplying ‘Brazilian hair’ to the local market has turned into a nightmare after she was arrested in Ethiopia for allegedly carrying half a kilogramme of cocaine in her stomach.
Now she faces the possibility of languishing in prison for 10 years.
Esther Banda was arrested by immigration authorities at Bole International Airport on March 29, 2014, although the Zambian mission in Addis Ababa was only informed about the development six weeks later.
Ms Banda had allegedly swallowed the cocaine to elude detection but she was not successful as vigilant officers apprehended her when they suspected her of carrying some prohibited articles.
Secretary for press and tourism at the Zambian mission in Addis Ababa, Dorcas Chileshe, said in a statement yesterday that Ms Banda was arrested on arrival from Brazil enroute to Lilongwe, Malawi, where the consignment was allegedly destined.
According to Ms Banda, her Nigerian boyfriend, based in Brazil, promised to pay her US$3,200 so that she could start a business of supplying Brazilian hair once she delivered the cocaine to his clients in Malawi.
“Ms Banda told an embassy official who visited her that she agreed to travel to Brazil after a male friend promised to help her start doing the business of supplying Brazilian hair but was later forced to swallow cocaine,” Ms Chileshe said.
She said Banda is detained at Kality Prison and is scheduled to appear in court on May 29, 2014 for judgement.
A drug trafficking offence in Ethiopia carries a minimum jail sentence of 10 years.
Four years ago, another Zambian woman aged 32 was arrested for the same offence in the same country after immigration authorities detected cocaine in her stomach at Bole International Airport.
And Zambian ambassador to Ethiopia Susan Sikaneta has appealed to the Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC) to work with the Ministry of Gender and Child Development as well as the Church in sensitising women to beware of men, especially foreigners, who disguise themselves as ‘saviours’.
She said a number of Zambian women have ended up in jail in foreign countries after being used by men who promise to help them become rich through the business of trading.
Ms Sikaneta also appealed to DEC to travel to Ethiopia to dialogue with immigration authorities and other relevant authorities on how best they can co-operate to ensure all persons involved in the drug trafficking chain are brought to book.
Zambia Daily Mail