Sigh of relief after detained KQ employee released

Wednesday, May 8th, 2024 02:30 | By
Sigh of relief after detained KQ employee released. PHOTO/Print

The Kenya Airways manager in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), who was detained in Kinshasa two weeks ago for failing to declare cargo, was released yesterday morning.

Confirming the release Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary Korir Sing’oei said Lydia Mbotela was released on Monday by authorities in Kinshasa without conditions.

And following the release of the staff member, KQ announced that it was resuming flights to Kinshasa starting today.

“With the necessary ground support in place, we are pleased to announce that Kenya Airways will resume flights to Kinshasa on 8 May 2024. We look forward to serving our valued customers once again,” said Managing Director Allan Kilavuka in a statement.

Sing’oei hailed the joint negotiation effort conducted by the Military Attache, the Foreign Relations Office (FRO) and the charge d’ affaires for their efforts to have Mbotela freed.

“Deeply grateful to inform you that Lydia Mbotela, KQ manager in DRC has just been released by the authorities in Kinshasa. I commend the team at our Mission: Our military Attaché, the FRO and the charge d’ affaires, for this incredible work of negotiating our compatriot’s release,” he stated on his X page.

Mbotela was arrested together with two other KQ employees who have been in custody for the last two weeks by the DRC military Intelligence over the alleged cargo that was to be transported on a KQ flight on April 12, without proper documentation.

 Kilavuka said that the Militaire des Activities Anti Patrie (DEMIAP) confiscated the phones of its staff and denied access to them.

However, Kilavuka explained that the said cargo was not uplifted or accepted by KQ due to incomplete documentation asserting that the two were illegally detained.

Following the arrest, Kenya Airways suspended all its flights to Kinshasa pointing out that the detaining of the two employees made it difficult for the airline to supervise its operations in Kinshasa.

“This includes customer service, ground handling, cargo activities and generally ensuring safe, secure and efficient operations,” said Kilavuka.

Kenya Airways had said last week that it was cooperating with investigating agencies and government entities in Congo and Kenya to ensure the matter was resolved. Mbotela and her Congolese colleague Olivier Lufungula were arrested on April 19.

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