A woman charged with attempting to smuggle 6kg of cocaine through Perth Airport has been named as a South African Airways flight attendant.
Priya Govender, 32, was arrested on August 18 after arriving in Perth on an SAA flight from Johannesburg with the drugs allegedly concealed inside six hollowed-out books she was carrying in her bags.
The news that Ms Govender worked for an airline was made public only at the weekend when SAA confirmed to media outlets in South Africa that one of its employees was in custody in Perth on drug charges.
The company also confirmed that she had been employed as a hostess for about seven years and was on duty the night she was arrested.
It is understood that Australian authorities had been tipped off about Ms Govender’s expected arrival and selected her for a detailed baggage examination when she reached customs.
The Australian Border Force said six packages, each weighing about 1kg, were discovered.
The Australian Federal Police were contacted and Ms Govender was charged with importing a commercial quantity of a border-controlled drug.
The Commonwealth offence carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.
According to her Facebook page, which has now been shut down, Ms Govender is engaged to her South African partner Dane Francis and it is understood the couple were planning to get married soon.
A spokesman for SAA told The Post newspaper in Durban that the airline was in contact with the family. The spokesman said that flight crews were subjected to security screening by the airline each time they boarded a plane, but the screening did not specifically look for drugs.
“Security screening processes are aimed at the detection of explosives, weapons or harmful articles to prevent acts of unlawful interference with aircraft operations and safety issues, and not necessarily to detect contraband,” the spokesman told the newspaper.
Ms Govender appeared in court a day after her arrest and was remanded in custody after her application for bail was rejected. She is due to appear in court again tomorrow.