Drama as angry SA pilot strips at Harare airport

2014-07-02 12:17

Cape Town - There was drama at Zimbabwe's Harare International airport after a South African pilot Captain W Van Ginkel lost his temper and stripped down to his underpants in protest against security procedures.

Zimbabwean media reported on Wednesday that at least 90 passengers aboard South African flight 025 who were due to travel to Johannesburg on Tuesday morning were left stranded following the bizarre incident.

The Herald said the flight was delayed by more than five hours to allow another crew from Johannesburg to take over after Ginkel was barred from flying, with aviation authorities raising concern over his state of mind following the incident.

Furious protest

The incident occurred on Tuesday morning as the cabin crew went through the screening routine.

The report said the detectors at the screening gates beeped as the pilot went through, prompting the authorities to ask him to remove his shoes.

But again the detectors beeped, resulting in him being asked to remove his belt, a directive that triggered a furious protest that saw him undressing to his undergarment.

Security officials subsequently moved in and arrested him.

According to the Daily News, the pilot was charged with nuisance and was fined before being released.

Another report by the said SAA spokesperson issued a statement apologising for the debacle.

A number of people tweeted about the incident. Read some of the tweets below.

  • Chris May - 2014-07-02 12:22

    So what caused the beep?

      Peggy Marumahoko - 2014-07-02 13:48

      walk through metal dictator

      Peter Woods - 2014-07-02 14:34

      Machine made in China ...

      Audrey Pearl Meyer - 2014-07-02 17:39

      Most probably faulty equipment

      Rob Martin - 2014-07-02 18:25

      Should change his name to van Winkel

      Dunte Devante - 2014-07-03 09:46

      The pilot is South African and I want to be on his side like any patriotic South African should be but on the other hand we have to be objective and admit the fact that when an authority figure like airport customs officials asks you to do something, you do it, that's the rule in any airport in the world. Losing your temper and throwing a hissy-fit by undressing really serves you no good Capt. Ginkel, SAA might even decide to take further disciplinary action against you for the incident... But then again, I understand, boer men become very stubborn and short-tempered when blacks start giving them instructions.

      Nkosingiphile Ngubane - 2014-07-03 14:38

      Good question Chris...funny how that answer didn't make the article.

  • HASANIM@ME.COM - 2014-07-02 12:23


  • Vukosi Ndlovu - 2014-07-02 12:27

    Drama,drama and more drama in zim

  • Graham Johnson - 2014-07-02 12:35

    Waht is wrong with a pilot exposing a joystick?

  • Jamill Ahmed - 2014-07-02 12:35

    I would do the same if that 'metal dictating machine' told me to lololol

  • BLUESILVER2012 - 2014-07-02 12:43

    I would have done the same, security could have stopped him at his shirt but they waited until he was in his tightie whities....does not make sense but then, it is Zim, the Circus if Africa.

  • Lin Browne - 2014-07-02 12:44

    I've been stopped there whilst wearing an underwire bra. I removed it at security. Women can do that without removing their shirts .. It's a gift. I was harassed about it even when they practically felt me up trying to see what was beeping and I said I was wearing a bra with an underwire. And yet people get through carrying weapons ....

      Audrey Pearl Meyer - 2014-07-02 17:42

      You should have said "its my bra - cross my heart but I dont think they would have got it

  • Altus Kirsten - 2014-07-02 12:49

    Why fly SAA?

      Gareth Coats - 2014-07-02 13:17

      To Zim? Would you fly Air Zimbabwe? Not me thanks!

      Justin Hemming - 2014-07-03 11:03

      Why fly to Zim to start with?

  • Willie Olivier - 2014-07-02 12:55

    Why are we still flying to Zimbabwe?

      Rassie Erasmus - 2014-07-02 13:00

      To see what we can expect in the next 5 years from the cANCer!!

      Alois Mavunga - 2014-07-02 13:20

      people still see what you don't see yourself, business of course.Things might be bad but some are still managing to make mullar there.

      Nceba Mbane - 2014-07-02 15:26

      Maybe people should walk there?

      Audrey Pearl Meyer - 2014-07-02 17:43

      To go and see how we will be living shortly

      Themba Khumalo - 2014-07-02 22:53

      Its called The Great Trek 2.

      George J Moffat - 2014-07-03 05:37

      @Willie are you S.a's spokesperson now?

      Andre Maritz - 2014-07-03 09:43

      It is faster than walking.

  • Clara Smith - 2014-07-02 12:56

    Way to go, Wouter! :-D

  • Alice Pretorius - 2014-07-02 12:56

    Wait for his side of the story. They should have removed the belt first as it obviously has a buckle. I also beeped at Heathrow because of jewellery and was only asked to remove my shoes as a precaution after I found it difficult to move the bangles over my hands.

      Mike Mcc - 2014-07-02 13:50

      He was apparently asked to remove his belt and shoes, the same as everyone else - instead he allegedly chose to freak out thinking he would make some kind of statement - like anyone cares. Definitely not the type of behaviour that is expected of a captain supposed to be able to handle high stress situations.

      jimzimbo - 2014-07-02 14:00

      Assuming this story is correct this guy is an idiot and should not be fyling at all. Assuming he was unreasionably treated he should be above this type of behaviour in any event. It would appear he has a very low stress tolerance level. As you say let's wait for his side of events.

      Alice Pretorius - 2014-07-02 14:06

      Mike, first the shoes then the belt, in any event an airport is not a place to throw your toys, and nothing will happen if you keep calm and do what they want.

  • Bradly Minnaar - 2014-07-02 13:04

    Thick country, thick people and of course the thickest african president by far.

      Siphamandla Radebe - 2014-07-02 16:02

      You exhibit symptoms of GAD. Check in at Weskoppies they might help you. How did you endup with the president from pilot?

      Fanus Hansen - 2014-07-02 16:34

      I can not agree Bradley, most beautiful country (yes a few hick-ups), most beautiful people (speak the purest Oxford English), I'll go back any time for a holiday, few nasty officials, very funny president!

  • James Smythe - 2014-07-02 13:14

    It actually does not get much more stupid than this - and not only in Zim however! If he was the PILOT of the aircraft he has ample opportunity to crash the plane in many and diverse ways if he has suddenly taken up a new career as a terrorist. Thus the entire notion of checking the pilot in command of the aircraft for 'dangerous' objects is rather futile in all events. He has control over the most dangerous object as soon as he sits in the left-hand seat in the cockpit - it is called the controls!

  • Michael Jones - 2014-07-02 13:17

    Looking at that one tweet, why is this SAA's fault?

  • Phukza Tshwani Mogotsi - 2014-07-02 13:38

    He was just being cooperative with the security procedures! !!

  • Lebohang Molefe - 2014-07-02 13:49

    I remember one taxi driver also stripped down to his uderpants at Noord street. I see a pattern here.

  • Evans Brandon Tshuma - 2014-07-02 13:53

    How is Alice a fool?

      Alice Pretorius - 2014-07-02 14:08

      Thanks Evans, lol ja, what can one say?

  • Goodman Segage - 2014-07-02 14:04

    I really understand what Mr Van Ginkel is going through as he experiences this on daily basis. Last year I experienced the same frustration with their procedures, I had to leave my foods, and when I tried to open the lids to throw it some stopped me, and that got me thinking these guys are taking our stuff in the name of security. The secprocedures stink. Nxa

  • Richard Turner - 2014-07-02 14:38

    I agree with the captain. Idiots the whole of Zim sec right now. Crazy fools with guns. Support Captain van Ginkel.

      Siphamandla Radebe - 2014-07-02 15:43

      Hell no, as for me i will keep my pants on thank you very much

  • Jeffrey Solomon - 2014-07-02 14:44

    SAA crew has a reputation for smuggling. I'm with Zim.

      Claudio Ferri - 2014-07-02 17:42

      The alarms at the body scanners are designed to detect metal objects - not drugs. No pilot at SAA has ever been caught smuggling anything - so your generalisation is uncalled for.

      ray.ducray - 2014-07-02 18:12

      You would be !!!

  • Paul Ehlers - 2014-07-02 14:51

    To be honest that has to be the worst airport security on the continent. I once saw a golfer's golf balls being confiscated because it was deemed a "dangerous" weapon. I had my Mouse's batteries removed there once as well.... Common sense is not that common

  • Hennie van Deventer - 2014-07-02 15:08

    Old Chinese saying: Remove belt, pants will drop

      Giel Vermeulen - 2014-07-02 16:00

      Mooi so Hennie!!!

  • Kelly O'neill - 2014-07-02 15:16

    O and all of zim cross our border without security checks! namibia just as anal!

  • Bianca Lottering - 2014-07-02 15:21

    You all should visit America.

      Terry Palmer - 2014-07-04 04:54

      too cold

  • Lindokuhle Mhlongo - 2014-07-02 15:52

    mr. senzeni zokwana only threatened to do this. the captain has done it.

      Victor Nyoni - 2014-07-02 19:53


  • Angelique Potgieter - 2014-07-02 15:53

    I would also lose my cool.

      Leonard Tsolo - 2014-07-03 08:20

      Then unfit to be a Captain.Captains underwent strict Security and Mental Checks,and once their mental is questionable,they become unfit to fly passengers.Got it Angelique?

  • TaxStrike - 2014-07-02 15:54

    Thank God he wore underwear!

      Lindokuhle Mhlongo - 2014-07-02 17:04

      hopefully it ddnt hv a hole in it.

  • martina.prchalova.14 - 2014-07-02 16:38

    Hahaha, good one. Well done, he was protesting, how is it that bare ass off woman is acceptable as a protest and pilot in undies not?

  • John Pautz - 2014-07-02 16:52

    In 1991 I lived on the island of Sicily. The chef magistrate prosecuting top mafia members was blown to pieces in a car bomb in the centre of the island and needless to say security was beefed up. I had to fly to France and each time I walked through the metal detector the damn thing buzzed making one hell of a racket and drawing a lot of attention to me. As a foreigner you try to avoid the Italian police "carabienieri". I was not guilty of anything but eventually pespiration was pouring down my body. To stop the glares and suspcious looks I too stripped to my skants and walked through without triggering the damn detector. I understand the Captains frustration and empathise with him. The security personnel in Zimbabwe can be compared to the Italian police - ruthless, cruel and sadistic.

      Marang Lesedi - 2014-07-03 08:42

      There's some indication in your comment that you've been through French and Italian airports, but none that you've been through Harare International. That kind of makes your Zim vs Italy comparison presumptuous, and useless frankly.

  • danie.burger.52 - 2014-07-02 17:24

    Now he feels how the rest of must endure. Had to exactly this on Istanbul this morning. What makes him so special

  • Zee Komani - 2014-07-02 17:31

    If this is indeed what happened, this guy's conduct has embarrassed SAA. He acted in a manner that can be described as cocky, presumptuous and irrational. This primadona thought he knows about border safety procedures more than a team of trained and upto date specialists, who obviously have to check out every little threat, from a needle to a shoe bomb, from a toy snake that can trigger passenger panic to an explosive 'toothpaste' tube. They have procedures designed to avert such risks, not stroke some fool's ego. He has years of experience, and should know that procedures like this are strictly enforced around the world, did he think he's more important than the passengers he transports everyday, who are subject to such security measures?

  • Philip Sevenster - 2014-07-02 17:55

    This is probably one of SAA's new recruits, I hear they just go for idiots these days

  • gina.swart.5 - 2014-07-02 19:18

    I don't understand why he reacted that anywhere in the EU/US etc and it is normal to remove shoes and belt for security checks

  • Molefe Khutoane - 2014-07-02 22:34

    did warrant him to be melodramatic.people must respect the laws. what have happened if it someone with terrorist intentions? then we will blame PRESIDENT MUGABE.

  • Molefe Khutoane - 2014-07-02 22:40

    If he was in America i bet he would have reacted differently. You are damn RACIST!

      Jenifer Johnstone - 2014-07-03 02:43

      go back to zimbabwe with your racist rubbish .

  • Hannes Loock - 2014-07-02 22:45

    Ek kry die idee dat die meningspeilings iewers verdwaald geraak het. Die "ups" moet eintlik "downs" wees en die "downs" moet eintlik "ups" wees?????

  • johan.ludike - 2014-07-03 03:33

    Who still flies SAA.?

  • gift.sibiya3 - 2014-07-03 06:35

    South Africans: They hate each other but boy do they think and behave the same. Gwax! U guys make my day.

  • Barbara Clemson - 2014-07-03 07:05

    i do not blame the captain for doing that. My mothers zip beeped the machine and she had my mother so annoyed because she wanted my mother to remove her jacket and her top in full view of everyone and she proceded to feel all over my mother to find the elusive beep.

  • Patrick George Mihalopoulos - 2014-07-03 07:14

    The detector gate came from China, obviously the South African pilot was to tall for detector. !! ? !!

  • bekithemba.nkosi - 2014-07-03 07:27

    I feel very sorry for the poor Captain. I think he was just supposed to comply with the security to avoid embarrassment and delay innocent passengers. Each country has it's rules and security measures.

  • Patricia Roos Fletcher - 2014-07-03 08:40

    Remind me not to fly to bobwe. I have pieces of metal holding my spine upright!

      Stefan Van Der Spuy - 2014-07-03 13:46

      And I have titanium in my jaw? Might have to dismantle my jaw and take it through separately?

  • Marius Coertze - 2014-07-03 09:31

    There you have it. Van Ginkel demonstrated the utter frustration white people experience when dealing with black security guards. These security guards always try to assert their superiority when dealing with white people. Their attitude of "You must learn who's the boss around here" and "I'll teach (show) you" by being purposefully spiteful and obstructive to the extreme. This pisses people off. I've lots of sympathy with Van Ginkel. As usual, the victim of abuse gets punished or fired when he/she retaliates after been provoked beyond the limit. The bastard that has caused the incident gets promoted and a pat on the back. That's Africa for you.

  • Barbara Clemson - 2014-07-03 09:31

    how many crew went through the gate because i used to work with crew uniform and the shoes and belts were the same for everyone so i ask again were his the only one that caused the beep or did they all have to remove their belts and shoes.

  • Mfumbayelangabi Silwane - 2014-07-03 10:02

    Would he had done the same thing in America????

  • Nixi Blakeway - 2014-07-03 10:12

    Airport staff.... always on some kind of power trip. Port Elizabeth Airport the worst!

  • Hester Vorster - 2014-07-03 11:03

    to everyone that responds here, and have their weren't's Harare Airport...need I say more. he was most probably provoked, so there is my response...

  • Chris Kleynhans - 2014-07-03 11:11

    I think I would do the same. It is incriminating to do these things to innocent people and security has lost the ability to respect citizens. The various Aviation Acts of countries are also ridiculous in many ways and one feel scared just to have a normal conversation at an airport.

  • Mark Hardcastle - 2014-07-03 11:47

    Pilots are screened,psychology evaluated and trusted with your safety, yet distrusted by airport officials because of faulty/oversensitive airport equipment. If they really want to cause havoc in the air, they can easily do so. So why distrust them, if our international levels of a terror threat are so heightened, lets ban flying and start walking or find a donkey. Well done van Ginkel enough nonsense!

  • Pogiso Mekgwe - 2014-07-03 12:58

    what if their machine had technical errors? Its a pity they dnt get the same treatment here.