Jailbird Ngubeni fired as SA's high commissioner to Singapore after exposé

19 February 2017 - 02:02 By MZILIKAZI wa AFRIKA
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South Africa's disgraced high commissioner to Singapore has been fired following a Sunday Times exposé that she is a convicted drug trafficker.

Hazel Ngubeni concealed her criminal history when she was nominated for her post in 2013.

On Friday, Department of International Relations spokesman Nelson Kgwete said: "Following the withdrawal of her security clearance by the State Security Agency, the department has revoked Ngubeni's contract for her posting as a high commissioner ... the employment contract has been terminated."

The Sunday Times reported on October 2 last year that Ngubeni was fired as an SAA air hostess after she was jailed in New York for smuggling a bag of cocaine into the US in 1999.

She returned home in April 2001 after two years in prison, but claimed in her SSA vetting for the diplomatic post she had no criminal record.


Ngubeni flew to Singapore on April 17 2013 to begin her job as high commissioner. Security clearance was issued three months later.

On the day of the Sunday Times exposé, she was ordered home.

The SSA revoked her clearance and a government investigation confirmed the report.

The Sunday Times also reported how Ngubeni failed to declare that she was arrested at OR Tambo International Airport and charged with smuggling 9kg of heroin from Thailand in September 1995.

An SAA cabin crew member arrested with her told police she asked him to carry one of her bags into South Africa, but he did not know drugs were stashed in a false compartment. The pair were acquitted in January 1997 after a key witness, reportedly a Mozambican diplomat, refused to testify against Ngubeni.

The Sunday Times established that department records show Ngubeni was nominated for her post by "senior political leadership". A month before she left for Singapore, she was a VIP guest at a fundraising dinner hosted by the Bongi Ngema-Zuma Foundation the Hilton Hotel in Sandton on March 2 2013.

Bongi Ngema-Zuma is a wife of President Jacob Zuma, who, as guest speaker, acknowledged Ngubeni in his speech.

Zuma's spokesman, Bongani Ngqulunga, said Zuma had no relationship with Ngubeni and a third party had invited her.

The department said Ngubeni had been notified of her dismissal, but she said yesterday that she had not received a letter ending her contract. Ngubeni refused to comment further.

Suspect payments led to SA's high commissioner to the UK failing security test.

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