Kenyan stowaway seeking asylum in the Netherlands

Schiphol Airport

In this file photo taken on March 18, 2020 Dutch airline KLM planes are parked on the tarmac of the Schiphol Airport, in the outskirts of Amsterdam.

Photo credit: File | AFP

What you need to know:

  • Dutch authorities are investigating whether he hopped onto the plane in South Africa or Kenya.
  • How the man survived the 11-hour flight from South Africa, if indeed he got to it in Johannesburg is still a mystery.


A 22-year-old Kenyan man is now seeking asylum in the Netherlands after landing in the country as a stowaway hiding in the nose wheel of a cargo plane on Sunday morning.

The man whose name is yet to be released to the public is reported to have hopped onto the Cargolux freight flight that flew from Johannesburg, South Africa to Schiphol airport in Amsterdam after making a stopover at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) in Nairobi.

Dutch authorities are investigating whether he hopped onto the plane in South Africa or Kenya even as authorities in Nairobi launch investigations into the matter.

“With his identity established, we shall now open a file to probe the matter,” Police Spokesperson Mr Bruno Shioso told Nation yesterday.

BBC news quoted a spokesperson for the Dutch military saying that the man who miraculously survived the intense cold and low oxygen levels at high altitudes to arrive in Amsterdam alive as being facilitated to apply for asylum.

“It is expected he will apply for asylum in the Netherlands, but his medical treatment is the priority at the moment.”

11-hour flight

How the man survived the 11-hour flight from South Africa, if indeed he got to it in Johannesburg is still a mystery.

“The man was found alive in the nose wheel of the plane and was taken to hospital in a stable condition. It is quite remarkable that he is still alive,” Royal Duth Military Police Spokeswoman Joanna Helmonds told the AFP news agency.

Local press said the man was able to answer basic questions before he was rushed to hospital for medical checkup and treatment.

On February 6 last year, a 16-year-old Kenyan boy was reported to have survived a flight from London to Maastricht after climbing onto the landing-gear bay area of the fuselage.

The 16-year-old boy who was found after the cargo jet landed in the Netherlands was thought to have survived the plane’s earlier flight from Nairobi to Stansted Airport in London via a stopover in Istanbul.

The boy was rushed to hospital suffering hypothermia but in a relatively healthy condition at the time.
A probe on the boy’s exact route included possible links to human trafficking.

Fell from KQ flight

A spokesperson for Maastricht Aachen Airport noted that temperatures within the landing gear bay of the Turkish Airlines Airbus A330 would have fallen to minus 30C.

“Stowaways on aeroplanes are rare, and most people sadly don’t survive the journey.”

In June 2019, the identity of another stowaway who fell from a Kenya Airways flight that was headed to Heathrow airport caused controversy after a Sky News report that revealed his name as Paul Manyasi was disputed by Kenyan authorities.

Prison authorities in Nairobi said the man depicted in the Sky News report was Cedric Shivonje who was serving a three-month jail term for an unrelated offence. 

Elsewhere, South African Themba Cabeka spent six months in hospital after clinging to the undercarriage of a jumbo jet during an 11 hour, 6,000-mile flight between Johannesburg and London in 2015.

He was discovered unconscious on the grounds of Heathrow Airport.

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