No clarity on airport syndicate

2013-07-23 08:32

It was unclear whether former deputy finance minister Jabu Moleketi was indeed followed from the airport before he was robbed in his driveway.

“He was accosted at gunpoint in his driveway. It is not clear whether he was followed from the airport but an investigation will also look at that possibility,” said Lieutenant Colonel Lungelo Dlamini yesterday.

It was reported over the weekend that Moleketi was robbed at his home in Observatory, eastern Joburg, on Saturday by a gang that targets people leaving the city’s OR Tambo International Airport.

Moleketi was quoted as saying: “Quite clearly, they were rushed. They just grabbed the suitcase.”

Moleketi, who chairs the Development Bank of Southern Africa, was returning from a G20 meeting in Russia on Saturday morning.

“Obviously, they followed us (from the airport). As we entered our house, they blocked the sensor (of the gate) and ran out with guns.”

Dlamini said no arrests had been made. He said police were not aware of any syndicates operating at the airport but confirmed that in the past, there have been similar cases reported.

“In the past we had several incidents where victims of crime claimed that they were followed from the airport and those incidents were investigated by members of the Hawks,” said Dlamini.

International visitors arriving at the airport have more than once fallen prey to gangs following them to their destinations.

People were either robbed on the way or when they arrived at their destination.

In 2007, Dumisani Kumalo, South Africa’s then ambassador to the UN, fell victim to such a gang.

He had just reached his son’s house in Greenside, northwestern Joburg, from the airport when three robbers struck.

One threatened Kumalo while his two sidekicks held up veteran journalist Joe Thloloe, who had gone to collect Kumalo from the airport.

The robbers were specific and wanted wallets, baggage and cellphones.

This was Kumalo’s second experience of being robbed as he was returning from the airport.

In November 2004, Kumalo and his wife Tikie were robbed in the driveway of their house in Faerie Glen, Pretoria.

In November 2009, lightweight boxing champion and Namibian national Paulus “Hitman” Moses and his trainer Nestor Tobias were robbed shortly after leaving the airport in a taxi.

The gang took R12 000 cash, jewellery and cellphones, before fleeing.

In November last year, two men were robbed two minutes after getting to their home in Heidelberg from the airport.

They were also held at gunpoint by three men and robbed of jewellery, cash and other valuables.

The following month, Home Affairs Minister Naledi Pandor’s brother was robbed at gunpoint outside his home in Killarney, northern Joburg.

Pandor’s brother Zolani Mathews and another man took a taxi home from the airport and were followed by a Volkswagen Polo with no number plates.

They were ordered to lie on the floor while the gang helped themselves to the bags in the taxi.

Two men were arrested for the crime but later released due to insufficient evidence.

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