Trade News

Airline Security Staff Face Bribery Charges

KEMPTON PARK, 2 January 2019 The management of O. R. Tambo International Airport have been informed that disciplinary hearings will be held tomorrow (Thursday) for two security company employees filmed taking an alleged bribe at a passport verification checkpoint.

When the video surfaced on social media, Tau Thekiso, the Manager for Public Safety and Security of the airport, informed the security company Securitas that the two women would not be permitted to work at the airport with immediate effect. The company was also reminded that the airport expects it to maintain the standard of security across the various responsibilities set out in its licensing contract.

The two female employees of Securitas were suspended by the company last Saturday. The women are aged 44 and 33, respectively.

Securitas is contracted to Emirates airline and was in this case conducting a documentation verification process. This process is done on behalf of airlines at the International Departures Hall prior to check-in in order to eliminate unnecessary delays and queues at the Home Affairs Emigration desks. The Home Affairs desk is the final port-controlled area a passenger is subjected to after being checked in by the airline. 

The security company is one of the nine security companies that have been licensed by Airports Company South Africa to provide security in terms of contracts directly with several airlines. The services that these companies provide include document verification such as visas, cargo security, aircraft guarding, weapon handling and cargo escorting services.

Bongiwe Pityi-Vokwana, General Manager of O. R. Tambo International Airport, says the airline carries responsibility for the conduct of service providers it contracts.

“In accordance with the prescripts of both the International Civil Aviation Organisation and the South African Civil Aviation Authority, we will write to Emirates and ask it to advise how it will mitigate against this sort of incident in future. We will also ensure that a corrective action plan is submitted. In addition, we will review the licensing conditions of the security company,” she says.

“Considerable progress has been made over the past 18 months in dealing with crime in and around the airport. The Multi-Disciplinary Integrated Security Tactical Plan was approved by the then Minister of Police, the Hon Fikile Mbalula, and adopted in 2017, the implementation of which brought fresh focus and energy to tackling security and crime,” says Pityi-Vokwana.

Over the past 12 months there were 676 arrests for all classes of crime, representing a 20% month-on-month reduction in cases reported at the airport.

Law enforcement agencies working at the airport also achieved notable successes in intercepting drug concealments over the period with 1 186 seizures of drugs with a street value of R2.9-billion.

“While we welcome progress, all stakeholders are very much aware that more must be done. Criminals are relentless. They seek out potentially vulnerable points in the airport environment which is complex and requires constant coordination and collaboration,” she says.

Pityi-Vokwana says it is particularly disturbing when those mandated to protect passengers and the integrity of a national key point betray the trust placed in them.

“Over the past year, we saw a number of our own security staff perform incredibly well in interdicting drug smuggling and other crimes. It is, therefore, upsetting to see the integrity of security employees, especially those employed by contracted security companies licensed to various stakeholders within the airport ecosystem, damaged by the actions of a selfish few.

“But we remain vigilant and will continue to act decisively in dealing with crime in and around the airport,” says Pityi-Vokwana.

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