SAA blocks 2 suspicious passengers from boarding plane after recent mid-flight theft

2018-10-18 11:52
SAA plane (Gallo Images / The Times / Alon Skuy)

SAA plane (Gallo Images / The Times / Alon Skuy)

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South African Airways (SAA) on Thursday confirmed that two passengers were denied entry to one of its flights, following a recent theft during a flight from Johannesburg to Hong Kong.

According to SAA spokesperson Tlali Tlali, the airline acted to prevent any further incidents on the Hong Kong route.

He told TimesLive the two passengers intended travelling from Hong Kong to Tanzania, via the Johannesburg route, last week but "were denied travel" on SAA flights.

He claimed that the two passengers were associated with previous incidents of on-board theft.

"Once we are able to pick them up in the system‚ part of the processes we have introduced include conducting interviews with them to establish reasons or circumstances under which they travel," Tlali said.

No suspects were arrested in the theft, which occurred at the beginning of October on SAA Flight SA 286 to Hong Kong from Johannesburg. 

In that incident, passengers had complained about money and a watch that went missing and the matter was brought to the attention of the crew, who arranged to have the police meet the aircraft on arrival. The identified suspects were searched by police, but nothing was found on them.

Cleaning staff later found the stolen items stashed away on the aircraft and the money was returned to the complainants.

According to Tlali, the suspects could not be arrested because "there was no evidence linking them directly to the incident".

'Heightened suspicions'

Tlali told TimesLive that they had barred the two passengers from the Hong Kong to Tanzania flight because they "were able to determine certain similarities between two passengers who claimed to have no connection or association".

"There were other details that heightened our suspicions about them‚ especially in the light of previous association with incidents of theft on board."

SAA flights to Hong Kong have been fraught with thefts over the past couple of years.

In 2016, travellers were warned about a syndicate operating on flights to Asian destinations, alleged to have stolen millions of rands worth of goods.

SAA passenger Warren Becker's holiday was ruined after his luggage was ransacked aboard Flight 286 from Johannesburg to Hong Kong and "extremely valuable jewellery" and roughly R30 000 in foreign currency were stolen from his bag.

"They left all the South African rands as well as my camera, as if to make it look like nothing was taken," Becker said at the time, confirming that his bag had been locked for extra security, but the lock had been broken.

In February 2016, on SAA Flight 222 from Johannesburg to Sao Paulo, a couple's engagement ring, credit card and about R20 000 in cash were stolen from their hand luggage while they slept.

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Read more on:    saa  |  johannesburg  |  travel  |  aviation  |  crime  |  air travel

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