A tainted im­age of South Africa

The Mercury - - OPINION -

THE ar­rest of four South African women for al­legedly be­ing part of a syn­di­cate smug­gling drugs be­tween Ja­maica and Mi­ami in the US, is a ma­jor blow for many young South Africans wish­ing to get work ex­pe­ri­ence in for­eign coun­tries.

It emerged yes­ter­day that four women, three from Dur­ban and one from Lusik­isiki in the Eastern Cape, em­ployed as crew for MSC Cruises were nabbed for al­legedly smug­gling co­caine into the US on Novem­ber 17.

Since the bust, many South Africans work­ing in lux­ury cruises around the world have re­port­edly been sub­jected to ha­rass­ment and scru­tiny by the law en­force­ment of­fi­cials in their host coun­tries. There are even ru­mours that MSC Cruises have placed a mora­to­rium on the em­ploy­ment of South Africans.

While the sus­pects have to be pre­sumed in­no­cent un­til proven guilty, it is clear the nega­tive ac­tions of a few have tainted the im­age of South African em­ploy­ees world­wide.

With the high rate of un­em­ploy­ment among the youth, such over­seas em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties have helped to al­le­vi­ate job­less­ness in this seg­ment of the pop­u­la­tion.

We hope that the cruise com­pa­nies will re­sist the temp­ta­tion of paint­ing all South Africans with the same brush be­cause of the al­leged greed of a few in­di­vid­u­als.

With the num­ber of South Africans get­ting in­car­cer­ated for drug smug­gling in for­eign coun­tries in­creas­ing daily, the gov­ern­ment needs to step in to re­verse this dis­turb­ing trend.

It is clear that sev­eral young peo­ple, fac­ing se­ri­ous so­cio-eco­nomic chal­lenges at home, are be­ing drawn into the murky world of drug deal­ing.

The sooner the gov­ern­ment in­ter­venes, the bet­ter for South Africans – who are now viewed with sus­pi­cion when trav­el­ling or work­ing abroad.

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