EC woman bust for smuggling drugs into US

14:18 (GMT+2) Fri, 07 Dec 2018

A woman from the Eastern Cape is one of four South African crew members working for MSC Cruises to be arrested for allegedly smuggling drugs into the United States.

23-year-old Viwe Tshaka of Lusikisiki reportedly pleaded not guilty when she appeared in court in Miami this past week along with three women from Kwazulu Natal following their arrest last month for being in possession of seven kilograms of cocaine.

The drugs were found during a November 17 raid on the MSC Seaside docked in Miami

They reportedly face several charges that include importing and conspiracy to import a controlled substance as well as the possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute it.

According to one of the women, they were 'employed' by another crew member to make the run from Jamaica to the US.  That crew member, identified by the Miami Herald as Damion Hawthorne, was also arrested and has already appeared in court.

The Department of International Relations and Cooperation said its working closely with US authorities to ensure that the women receive a fair trial.

Spokesperson, Ndivhuwo Mabaya, said they are required to provide the women with consular services and liaise between them and US authorities.

"We are also required to liaise between them and their families," he said.

MSC said they had been dismissed from their working contract.