Police foil attempted robbery at OR Tambo
Gang of eight tries to rob airport
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.