Po­lice foil at­tempted rob­bery at OR Tambo

Gang of eight tries to rob air­port

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - TOBY NGO­MANE

THE ARMED gang of eight must have thought that they were about to pull a dar­ing cash-heist at OR Tambo In­ter­na­tional Air­port.

Some of them, dressed as mem­bers of the air­port se­cu­rity com­pany, man­aged to en­ter the cargo ter­mi­nals.

Oth­ers, who ar­rived in two sep­a­rate get­away ve­hi­cles, had taken con­trol of the main gate while some took con­trol of the Swis­s­port ware­house, where they stole a truck loaded with cell­phones.

Un­be­known to them, the air­port se­cu­rity guards were on the alert and had been ob­serv­ing them. Con­vinced that it was the right mo­ment to make a move, the guards pounced on the gang.

The drama un­folded at the air­port on Satur­day when air­port se­cu­rity guards and SAPS mem­bers foiled a heist by the gang at Africa’s big­gest air­port.

One of them tried to make a dash for free­dom, but he was fa­tally wounded, ac­cord­ing to na­tional po­lice spokesper­son Vishnu Naidoo. His ac­com­plices were still at large.

The po­lice and guards’ swift ac­tion earned them praise from Po­lice Min­is­ter Fik­ile Mbalula. “Min­is­ter Mbalula ap­plauds the work­ing re­la­tion of our se­cu­rity forces in fight­ing crime,” said spokesper­son for the Po­lice Min­istry Vuyo Mhaga. Naidoo ex­plained that the heist was thwarted af­ter the po­lice were im­me­di­ately in­formed by a crime com­bat­ing unit and acted promptly.

“Po­lice were alerted through mech­a­nisms which form part of the joint re­ac­tive strate­gies be­ing em­ployed to com­bat robberies at the air­port.”

While some of the al­leged rob­bers were taken into cus­tody, oth­ers were still at large. “Two sus­pects fled on foot across the R21 high­way,” said Naidoo, adding that the Gaut­eng K9 unit man­aged to track one down, but he was later killed in a shootout.

Naidoo added that two firearms, in­clud­ing a pis­tol and a re­volver, were re­cov­ered from the sus­pects. He said the po­lice were in dis­cus­sion with the man­age­ment of the ware­house about the ac­ces­si­bil­ity and se­cu­rity of the ware­house in the hope of un­der­stand­ing how the in­ci­dent took place.

“In the mean­time, po­lice will be con­tin­u­ing vig­or­ous dis­cus­sions with the man­age­ment of the ware­house se­cu­rity on the easy ac­ces­si­bil­ity or the lack of pro­tec­tion thereof.”

Naidoo did not rule out the pos­si­bil­ity that the at­tempted rob­bery might have been an inside job. “Inside in­volve­ment in this rob­bery can­not be ruled out at this stage.”

Mean­while, anti-crime ac­tivist Yusuf Abram­jee said: “We need to con­grat­u­late the po­lice.” How­ever, he said it was too soon for cel­e­bra­tions as too many robberies took place in and around the air­port, de­scrib­ing it as a haven for crim­i­nals.

“We shouldn’t cel­e­brate this as a ma­jor break­through (be­cause) the sit­u­a­tion is out of con­trol.”

He noted that the crimes were af­fect­ing tourism.

Abram­jee’s com­ments came in re­gard to a re­cent spate of robberies com­mit­ted in or near the air­port.

About a week ago, a fam­ily from Malawi were robbed on the Van Bu­uren off-ramp in Bed­ford­view, while a cou­ple from the Demo­cratic Repub­lic of Congo were shot at and robbed near a Sand­ton ho­tel.

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