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JOHANNESBURG  – Crime in and around South Africa’s busiest airport is getting out of hand – as the highway opposite OR Tambo international was closed due to an attempted cargo robbery shoot-out.

Airports Company South Africa (Acsa) says an armed robber was shot dead and another arrested after they held up Swissport security guards at the cargo precinct of OR Tambo International Airport on Saturday morning, 1 July.

Leigh Gunkel-Keuler, spokesperson for OR Tambo International Airport says Acsa can confirm at this stage that at 10.55am a group of armed men held up and overpowered security guards employed by Checkport at the Swissport warehouse at the cargo precinct.

“The robbery took place on the public access land side of the cargo precinct and the robbers did not gain access to the air side of the airport,” says Gunkel-Keuler.

It is alleged that the robbers made off in a hijacked cargo truck. Members of the South African Police Services and Reshebile Protection Services responded immediately.

Acsa says Reshebile is contracted to provide security services to the airport.

Robbers confronted by SAPS at Kempton Park off-ramp

A few kilometres from the cargo precinct, at the Kempton Park off-ramp of the highway, the robbers were confronted by SAPS members and Reshebile Security staff. Two members of the gang attempted to flee on foot. A shootout ensued in which one of the robbers was killed and another arrested.

Bob Gurr, Vice President of Swissport South Africa, confirmed that it is not known at this stage exactly how many robbers carried out the hold-up as well as what was in fact stolen as part of the robbery. The SAPS is still on the scene and investigations continue.

Gunkel-Keuler says airport management thanks both the SAPS and the Reshebile staff for their immediate response and swift action. “This speaks to the collaborative effort between Airport Management, SAPS and other key stakeholders in an attempt to arrest this very dire crime situation, we therefore want to congratulate our contracted security company, Reshebile Protection Services and the SAPS on this very vital arrest.”

Crack down on syndicates

On Wednesday, 28 June Airports Company South Africa issued an alert warning that criminals operating through sophisticated syndicates within the airport, using “airport spotters” are putting SA’s lucrative travel and tourism industry at risk.

This followed a spate of crime in recent weeks, with a Carte Blanche investigation into the matter revealed the issue runs far deeper than travellers being followed once they leave SA’s busiest airport.

The actuality programme interviewed an alleged spotter, keeping his identity a secret, as he detailed how airport insiders, known as spotters, are helping criminals identify tourists, businessmen and even locals with valuable luggage and goods as they pass through OR Tambo International.

Follow these tips according to Wheels24 to avoid a hijacking:

  • Have your key ready but not visible. Unlock your car when you’re close by.Don’t talk on your cellphone as you walk.
  • Check the back seat before getting into your car.A well-maintained car is less likely to break down and leave you vulnerable.
  • Plan your route and let someone know what your route is and when to expect you at your destination.
  • Always check the rear view mirror to see if you are being followed.
  • Avoid driving with your windows open and keep the doors locked.
  • Put all valuables out of sight. Avoid distractions while driving such as using a cellphone.If you suspect you are being followed, drive to your nearest police station or a busy public area
  • When approaching a red traffic light, slow down so that you only reach it when it turns green.
  • Make sure your driveway is well lit and clear of shrubbery. If possible, park in a central, well-lit place, preferably with guards on duty.
  • When stopping behind another vehicle, leave half a vehicle length in front so you can make an emergency escape if necessary.
  • Change your routes and your schedule if possible on a regular basis.
    -Make arriving at your destination safer by calling ahead and asking someone to open and close your gate for you.

PHOTO: © AFP File image


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