Kenya Airways Staff Detained in DRC

April 26, 2024

National Carrier Kenya Airways has Friday morning released a protest statement following the detention of its staff in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

On Friday last week, two of KQ’s ground staff in Kinshasa were arrested by the country’s military intelligence unit on allegations of ‘missing custom documentation’ on valuable cargo. Their phones were seized and access denied for the most part.

Kenya Airways staff and Kenya embassy officials were however allowed to visit them briefly.

KQ filed an application that the two be released unconditionally, a matter that was heard and granted by the court. However, the military intelligence unit has refused to obey the court orders and continues to detain them incommunicado.

According to the airline, the cargo in question was not even in their possession, but rather with the logistic handler. KQ argues that they are not at fault whatsoever, because they had not accepted the cargo due to incomplete documentation.

In the statement, KQ states:

The facts of the incident are as follows:

  • The cargo was not on the air side for transportation and, therefore, not in the possession of KQ as the logistic handler was still completing documentation before handing it over to KQ.
  • This cargo was still in the baggage section undergoing clearance when the security team arrived and alleged that KQ was transporting cargo without customs clearance.
  • All efforts to explain to the military officers that KQ had not accepted the cargo because of incomplete documentation proved futile.
  • The military officers took the two employees to the military side of the air wing (DEMIAP) to record statements. They were held incommunicado until April 23rd 2024, when a team from the Kenyan Embassy and KQ were allowed to visit them albeit for a few minutes.

The national carrier then goes on to state:

For clarity:

Kenya Airways adheres to international best practices in handling and transporting cargo. We have stringent processes and compliance checks known as ‘Ready for carriage’ to ensure any cargo ferried on our flights meets all the statutory requirements across our destinations. All our logistics partners MUST comply with these measures before KQ accepts any cargo. These include:

  1. Documentation must be compliant and approved by the relevant agencies and regulators of the cargo being ferried.
  2. The appropriate authorities must sign and approve security and safety checks, such as weight and relevant documentation.
  3. No cargo can be accepted until customs endorsement is given.

All cargo must pass the ‘Ready for Carriage’ compliance checks before KQ accepts it, and this is the responsibility of the shipper or logistics partner, not KQ.

We are perturbed by this action targeting innocent staff and consider it harassment targeting Kenya Airways’ business. KQ continues to cooperate with the investigating agencies and is working with the relevant Government entities in both DRC and Kenya to ensure this matter is resolved.

Don't Miss