O.R Tambo's 33% Pass Mark

2017-03-20 12:17

It has to be my favorite story of the week. Because it’s so stupid that it can only really happen in South Africa – where even the standards of our criminals have slipped below the 33.3% needed to pass a subject in matric.

I refer of course to the recent bold and impressive heist at O.R Tambo International Airport were R24 Million – no wait – R200 Million, was stolen off the tarmac where flight SA294 was boarding.

It’s like the coolest story ever (so long as it isn’t your money) and one where I can imagine Charlize Theron in the lead role wearing something tight and leathery and black. Sunglasses are perched on her perfectly coiffured head, even though its Johannesburg and it’s night time so it’s pretty dark and scary because the street lights aren’t working. She coordinates the daring operation. The whole event is colour coded down to the last Ford Kuga that have been custom designed for visual impact. Even the fire extinguishes match (they ordered the cars before the whole Ford story). And even though they didn’t really use Ford Kugas but rather cloned police vehicles.

It goes off without a hitch. Everyone plays their parts and South Africans across the country marvel at the fact that it is not only our politicians who steal. And we know it’s not them because they wouldn’t be seen dead in a Ford of any description.

The nation is horrified because it reflects so poorly on security at the country’s busiest airport. But the teenage boy in all of us is intrigued and enthralled. Because it involves everything cool.

Until one of the thieves buys himself a Lamborghini with the money he stole and then takes a selfie of himself standing along side it. And all of a sudden the charm is gone. It’s tacky and uncool. It’s like switching on a light at a club to expose the ugliness and the worn carpets. No one thinks its clever anymore and there is nothing dapper about it. And just like that he is just another common thief.

He of course gets himself firmly arrested, which is exactly what he deserves for being so stupid, and South Africans shake their well shaken heads, and lament the facts that there are simply no more standards. Even our thieves are standard-less. And that’s what happens when all you need is 33.3%

It’s not rocket science.

And I blame President Jacob Zuma. Because the responsibility of the lowering of the thieving standard rests firmly on his shoulders. He has demonstrated that no smarts are required in order to loot the state coffers and that if he can do it, well, anyone can. And he has demonstrated that one doesn’t need to be particularly wily in order to do so. Blind greed and a group of loyal henchmen is all that is demanded in order to enrich. And if you get caught you can simply move on to the next project which has been in the works for years in any event. A 33.3% success rate is all that is required.

What is also clear is that security at South Africa’s busiest airport is also functioning at around that percentage. And more worrying than the fact that our suitcases might be rummaged though, and our dirty laundry handled by someone other than Charlize Theron, is that the heist exposes what a risk the airport is to terrorism and to attack. Because if those who are trusted to keep our possessions safe can be paid off for the sake of theft, then they can be bought for more sinister purposes. And when it comes to global terror 33.3% is not just not good enough.

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