AS IT HAPPENED: OR Tambo Heist - 'We cannot rule out inside job'

2017-03-09 12:00

During the briefing on the OR Tambo International Airport heist, acting police commissioner Lieutenant-General Khomotso Phahlane has said that at this stage of the investigation, the possibility of an inside job cannot be ruled out.


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Last Updated at 21:31
09 Mar 12:40

The briefing wraps up, seemingly with more questions than answers. The investigation is still ongoing.  

09 Mar 12:40
ACSA chief executive Bongani Maseko in response to a question about the airport security's response to the robbery at OR Tambo International Airport. 

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Phahlane satisfied that the stolen cargo was not illegal and that it went through the necessary processes to be able to leave the country. 

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Phahlane reiterates that bogus police cars were used during the robbery. 

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Phahlane says he is convinced that police are hard at work tracing suspects. In response to a question about the alarming rise in cash-in-transit heists, Phahlane replied that the increase is in the number of car hijackings, not cash heists. 

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Phahlane: "We cannot rule out any inside job, we cannot rule out any collusion in this regard. We need space to piece this together." 

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Phahlane: "We do not want to get down to the details. Colleagues from ACSA issued a statement with some detail, and I don't think we are prepared to repeat what is out there in the public domain. Even if we were to be told that the amount is R24m or R20m, it is still subject to an investigation and needs to be clarified. 

"In this press briefing, we are not going to be talking to that detail." 

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In response to a journalist who claimed she was able to freely roam around the airport. 

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Phahlane is now taking questions from the media present. Clarity has been requested around the exact amount of money that was stolen in the robbery, and whether or not it was an inside job. 

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Phahlane: There is no reason why we should doubt the competency and the capability of the authorities. 

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Phahlane has arrived and the briefing is about to begin.

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SA's biggest heists

From chiselling into safe rooms to drugging security guards, South Africa’s most high-profile heists are the stuff movies are made of.

On Tuesday night, robbers made off with an estimated R24m in what appeared to be a well-planned robbery possibly involving police, at OR Tambo International Airport.The robbery is not the first at OR Tambo International Airport.

In the second half of 2001, at the then-Johannesburg International Airport, $6.5m was stolen from a Swissair cargo plane, and almost $10m from a KLM cargo plane.

This, however, is only a quarter of the amount stolen during the country’s biggest robbery 11 years ago.Here’s a list of the most notorious heists over the past 20 years:

09 Mar 10:27

How the multi-million-rand heist unfolded – OR Tambo

OR Tambo International Airport on Wednesday revealed how an estimated R24 million was stolen from a container at the airport.

A bakkie pulled up in front of a restricted access gate at 19:23 on Tuesday, according to a statement from the airport.

A white Ford Focus followed the bakkie. Both had sirens on and blue lights flashing. The occupants were several armed men, some of them wearing SAPS uniforms.

09 Mar 10:27

OR Tambo heist: Cash was destined for the UK

A vehicle used during the daring heist at OR Tambo Airport on Tuesday night has been recovered in Pretoria.

A highly-placed source told News24 that the vehicle was found on Tuesday night with several empty boxes which had held the cash. The source said senior Hawks investigators were probing a police connection in the heist by using a tracker system.

The source said the undisclosed cash, believed to be in the region of around R24m, was stolen from a plane at OR Tambo International Airport on Tuesday which was destined for the UK.

09 Mar 10:27

Inside job for OR Tambo heist not ruled out - Hawks

Police have not ruled out the possibility that the heist at OR Tambo International Airport on Tuesday evening was an inside job, Hawks spokesperson Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi told News24 on Wednesday.

"We can’t rule out anything. Please give us time to investigate. We still have to meet with Airports Company South Africa (Acsa) and conduct security checks. It’s still premature to make any pronouncements."

A total of R24 million was stolen from a plane at the airport, sources told News24.

09 Mar 10:27

R24m 'police car' heist at OR Tambo airport

A total of R24 million was stolen from a plane at OR Tambo International Airport on Tuesday evening, sources told News24.

After the SAA flight landed, people in a marked police vehicle intercepted the money. A white Mercedes-Benz is believed to have been used in the operation.

Hawks spokesperson Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi said a high-level investigation, involving all law enforcement agencies, was underway. He declined to divulge further information. 

Airports Company South Africa spokesperson Trevor Jones said there had been a robbery, but he could not confirm the amount of money stolen. 

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