Johannesburg, 08 March 2017 – The following statement, released by the Airports Company of South Africa (ACSA) today, outlines the sequence of events regarding an armed robbery at O. R. Tambo International Airport (ORIA) on Tuesday evening:
“At 19h23, a vehicle (a bakkie) with what appeared to be police markings pulled up at a restricted access gate, North Gate 1. It was closely followed by a white Ford Focus. Both vehicles had their sirens and blue lights activated. The vehicles were occupied by several armed men, some of whom were in South African Police Service (SAPS) uniforms.
When requested to validate their credentials, the men produced firearms, rounded up security staff in the security checkpoint and ordered them to lie on the floor.
The robbers proceeded to gain access to the airside of the airport where they removed an undisclosed amount of money from a sealed container. No shots were fired and no injuries were reported.
The bakkie and the Ford Focus then exited through the same point of entry at 19h45.
Airports Company South Africa has replaced security guards in the affected operations as a precautionary measure while investigations continue. Security measures around the airport have been further heightened.
Immediately after the incident, the South African Police Service established an investigative task team comprising of Crime Intelligence, The Hawks and SAPS detectives to investigate this matter.
The team has been working around the clock in an effort to trace the robbers. Thus far the two vehicles involved in the robbery have been recovered in Mamelodi, east of Pretoria. It was established that the bakkie had been made to look like an official police vehicle.
Management of Airports Company South Africa is deeply concerned by this robbery and the manner in which it took place. We are working closely with law enforcement agencies to support both the investigation of this robbery and to establish what further measures will be taken.
It is of particular importance to note that the safety of passengers, staff, stakeholders and visitors to the airport was not compromised during the robbery.
We can assure passengers and visitors to the airport that their safety and security remains our top operational priority.
Operations at O. R. Tambo International Airport were not affected and the airport is functioning normally.”
And the DA’s Statement
A press statement released today by the Democratic Alliance (DA) Shadow Minister of Police, Zakhele Mbhele MP, calls for the IPID to investigate alleged SAPS involvement in the OR Tambo heist:
“The DA will write to the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) to request that it conducts a thorough investigation into whether or not South African Police Services (SAPS) members or assets were involved in the heist at OR Tambo International Airport last night.
The DA will also submit parliamentary questions to find out how many SAPS vehicles and firearms have been found to have been used for criminal activity, as well as how many SAPS members have been found guilty of criminal offences.
Furthermore, the DA will also be submitting questions to the Ministers of Police and Transport to determine the state of security at our country’s airports.
Last night, an astounding R24 million was reportedly stolen from a South African Airways plane at the OR Tambo International Airport by people who approached the plane in a marked police vehicle.
The use of a police vehicle in this incident is extremely concerning and could point to the involvement of corrupt cops.
SAPS should be protecting the lives and property of South Africa’s people and we should not be seeing the use of official resources by corrupt cops to enrich themselves.
Earlier this year, Robert McBride, the head of IPID, told members of the Portfolio Committee on Police that the SAPS and the Hawks seem to be involved in a turf war over drugs at OR Tambo.
This was denied by Berning Ntlemeza, the head of the Hawks, at a subsequent portfolio committee meeting.
SAPS officers should be fighting crimes such as armed robbery, not committing them.
We cannot allow South Africa’s airports to become a hotspot for gangs and cartels.
The SAPS need to be beyond reproach and the DA will not rest until South Africans feel safe and secure in public spaces.”