Policewoman’s Brazil drug bust shocks neighbours
To her neighbours, Khanimamba Maluleke was a model citizen: the single mother of two young children, a police constable and a committed Christian.
So they were surprised to hear this week that the 33-year-old had been arrested at São Paulo International Airport in Brazil with six bricks of cocaine in her luggage. “We were shocked when her mother told us what happened to her,” said a friend who lives close to Maluleke in Kensington, Johannesburg.
“She was also crying and didn’t believe what had just happened to her daughter.”
She said Maluleke had a one-year-old son and a seven-year-old daughter.
“Her older sister came to fetch them on Friday. I don’t believe she is a drug smuggler. Maybe it is something that she was doing for the first time. I’ve known her to be a Christian woman. She loved her two children.”
A tenant told the Sunday Times they had last seen Maluleke, who comes from Limpopo and works at the Cleveland police station, on Wednesday.
Department of International Relations and Co-operation spokesman Nelson Kgwete said Maluleke was in detention in Brazil and due to appear in court soon.
“She was travelling to Johannesburg international airport when she was caught with six bricks of cocaine in her luggage on Thursday night. Dirco was made aware of the incident on Friday,” said Kgwete.
The arrest had been made by Brazilian police and Interpol. He said the South African consulate in São Paulo was working with the Brazilian authorities.
National police spokesman Brigadier Vishnu Naidoo declined to comment and referred questions to Dirco. He said Maluleke was not doing police work in Brazil and her case should be treated like that of any other normal citizen arrested in a foreign country. “We could only give a comment if she was arrested here in South Africa, but for now only Dirco can comment on this case.”