Cape Town - Johannesburg International is the busiest airport on the continent and more often the connector hub of choice for travel to other parts of South Africa - but crime has become rampant - with official statements warning travellers to be vigilent.
OR Tambo International issued a statement over the past weekend after yet another cargo heist attempt took place at the airport.
This followed a Carte Blanche investigation into alleged spotters working within the airport to identify travellers with high-value bags or good.
Aired on Sunday 25 June, the actuality programme interviewed an alleged spotter as he detailed how people working at the airport are helping criminals identify tourists, businessmen and even locals as they pass through OR Tambo International.
On Friday 7 July, EFF leader Julius Malema weigh in on the concern calling the airport a "playground for criminals".
What are the authorities doing about the crime situation:
Acsa has since met with the various stakeholders involved in the safety and security of the airport operations and has confirmed it is working through its Public Safety and Security staff to identify these alleged “airport spotters” believed to be alerting criminals behind follow-home robberies.
Acsa says it is supporting the South African Police Services Crime Prevention Plan in identifying the alleged spotters.
'Decisive action to be taken'
Leigh Gunkel-Keuler, spokesperson for OR Tambo International Airport says, “We will not hesitate to take decisive action when we identify any person helping the criminals, irrespective of whether these spotters are employed by Airports Company South Africa or one of the many service providers operating at the airport.”
An estimated 35 000 people are employed air-port wide, across airline companies, ground handling companies, cargo operators, security companies, retail concessionaires, hotels, public transport operators and government agencies. Further, only about 10% to 15% of people working at the airport are directly employed by Acsa.
“In addition, we continue to work closely with the SAPS on a variety of measures, including surveillance and intelligence work, to identify the spotters and the criminals.”
Acsa is also working with the travel and tourism sector so that it remains engaged on the issue of crime - having met with the Tourism Business Council concerning the spike in this crime trend.
“As airport management, we met with key stakeholders in the travel and tourism sector. We too spoke of our mounting concern around issues of crime in a candid and transparent manner. SAPS officials were also present to provide an update on their crime prevention approach. Our commitment to being a part of the solution continues," says Gunkel-Keuler.
An airport is a complex facility within which many stakeholders operate and Gunkel-Keuler says that in this context, efforts in regard to safety and security need to be carefully synchronised.
“We will continue to work with all law enforcement agencies and the wider airport community to implement activities that will help identify the spotters alleged to be employed at the airport by various companies,” she says.
'Safe and secure portal to report crime'
Traveller24 previously spoke to Tourism Business Council's GM for Policy Analysis and Strategic Projects Tebogo Umanah, following a heist involving cargo to the estimated value of R24m, also believed to have been part of an alleged internal syndicate.
Umanah's portfolio includes project management for the Tourism Business Index and the Tourism Safety Initiative, concerning illegal activities within the Tourism Sector and what business can do to report as well as tighten measures around the issue.
According to Umanah, not many are aware of the TBCSA's Tourism Safety Initiative (TSI) which offers its members a "safe and secure portal" to report as well as to active investigations around any criminal networks and activities they suspect their employees or guests might be involved in.
Umanah says the council works together with the police and individuals who are able to remain anonymous but still ensure the issue of criminal activity is swiftly addressed.
IMPORTANT CONTACTS FOR MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC: (toll-free & anonymous)
The ACSA Hotline: 0800 00 8080
The ACSA Hotline Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
ACSA Customer Care Services: Customercare@airports.co.za
TBCSA TSI portal: Click here to report a crime
Follow these tips according to Wheels24 to avoid a hijacking: