7 police officers, 42 officials suspended in OR Tambo security 'clean up'

Police Minister Fikile Mbalula at a media briefing at the OR Tambo international airport on Friday. (Nation Nyoka, News24)
Police Minister Fikile Mbalula at a media briefing at the OR Tambo international airport on Friday. (Nation Nyoka, News24)

Johannesburg – Seven police officers, 34 information desk clerks and eight Gauteng tourism officials have been suspended in an on-going "clean-up" of OR Tambo International Airport, Police Minister Fikile Mbalula said on Friday.

This as a special court for the airport is set to be launched to deal with "aviation-related matters".

The seven police officers were suspended after they were linked to several crimes at the airport, Mbalula said at a press briefing at the airport surrounding the upgrading of security following months of hijackings, thefts, and murders linked to a syndicate at the airport.

Airport Community South Africa (ACSA) general manager Bongiwe Pityi said the information counter clerks and Gauteng tourism officials who have been suspended will be subjected to a disciplinary process within the next few weeks.

During the briefing, State Security Minister David Mahlobo promised that the vetting of airport staff would begin on Monday.

He said vetting would include people working for service providers and contractors, about 35 000 people in total. Staff from car hire companies, restaurants, and airlines are also set to be vetted.

Also read: Truck hijacked outside OR Tambo ahead of Mbalula's visit

Ekurhuleni mayor, Mzwandile Masina, said the municipality plans to deploy 25 additional officers on roads leading to and from the airport, in addition to the 95 there at present.

They would also first be vetted.

CCTV cameras would be installed in strategic areas in and around the airport and visible policing would increase.

He apologised for the random stop and searches and roadblocks that could arise during the implementation of the plan.

Mbalula said the South African Police Service (SAPS) wanted a "firmer, disciplined force".

"Criminality isn't only happening through police and that’s why we have to close the gaps. Those who have been reshuffled, it doesn’t mean they are guilty. It’s just that when people get too comfortable, they'll be susceptible to wrongdoing," he said.

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