A random stop-and-search in one of the baggage handling areas. Picture: SUPPLIED/ACSA
A random stop-and-search in one of the baggage handling areas. Picture: SUPPLIED/ACSA

Ten security officers from a contracted security company were dismissed after being found in possession of stolen items, including alcohol and juices, at Johannesburg’s OR Tambo International Airport.

Airports Company SA (Acsa) said this was among several actions taken as part of peak-season security operations.

Acsa expects more than 3.6-million passengers to fly in and out during December and January. The Friday before Christmas and the first Friday in January are expected to have high passenger volumes. “Security has been ramped up with additional members being provided by the police and licensed security contractors,” said Acsa.

Among the measures being taken are random stop-and-search operations of people working in and around the airport; and using additional staff to monitor several hundred CCTV cameras in real time.

“Staff with permits to work on the airside [the entire zone of an airport that is past the customs control, passport (check-in) and security check zone] are not only subject to random stops and searches but are also subject to intensified searches at access points, both entering and leaving access-controlled areas,” Acsa added. 

“Baggage wagons and other vehicles being used airside are being randomly stopped, with drivers subject to questioning and inspections ”

The security operations have so far also resulted in:

  • The arrests of 10 people for contravening the Civil Aviation Act and for trespassing.
  • Alcohol wrapped in blankets and thrown over a fence being handed to the SA Police Service for further investigation.
  • Damaged fencing identified in an area where alcohol wrapped in blankets was found during perimeter inspections, which has been repaired.
  • Officers of a licensed security contractor apprehending two foreigners in toilets, who were found with fraudulent passports. They were handed over to the police and a case opened.
  • Officers of a licensed security contractor apprehending a foreigner trying to enter SA illegally. He was arrested and handed to the police.
  • Workers for two contractors being found removing items from an airside rubbish dump, arrested and handed to the police.
  • A security officer employed by an international airline found with 47 bottles of liquor miniatures when stopped and searched. He was arrested and has appeared in the Kempton Park magistrate’s court.

Betty Maloka, senior manager for corporate affairs at the airport, said the airlines, ground-handling companies, law enforcement agencies and other stakeholders are collaborating extensively with airport managers to ensure a successful holiday season.

“We are cautiously optimistic that we are well placed to mitigate security risks and maintain technical, engineering and IT systems to prevent unnecessary delays.”