Zambia retrieves helicopters bought through the proceeds of crime in South Africa


Zambia has recovered two helicopters bought illicitly from South Africa by former Zambian foreign affairs minister Joseph Malanji with $5 million of laundered money.

The two aircraft, a Bell 430 (ZS-RZA) and a Bell 206 (9J-GAC), were in 2021 sold to Malanji by two South African companies, respectively National Airways Corporation (NAC) and MML Aviation.

Malanji was in December 2021 arrested for possession of property suspected to be proceeds of crime. At the time of his arrest, he was accused of possessing the Bell 430 helicopter valued at about $1.4 million as well as three properties suspected to have been bought from proceeds of crime. Malanji was jointly charged and arrested with former Secretary to the Treasury Fredson Yamba over an irregular transfer of over 154 million kwacha to the Zambian mission in Turkey. Malanji is accused of laundering $5 million in Zambian state funds earmarked for the purchase of a property for Zambia’s embassy in Turkey.

This week, South Africa’s Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFU) worked with its counterparts in Zambia and Zimbabwe to recover the two helicopters – the first arrived from Zimbabwe earlier this week, from where it was flown by Zambia Air Force pilots. It touched down at the Zambia Air Force’s base in Lusaka on 18 June, witnessed by Director of Public Prosecutions Gilbert Phiri and Drug Enforcement Commission Director General Nason Banda, ZNBC News reported.