Minister of Police Statement at OR TAMBO INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT Media Briefing !!

This morning I met with the Minister of State Security, Mr David Mahlobo,
the Executive Mayor of Ekurhuleni, Mr Mzwandile Masina, the MEC of
Community Safety, Ms Sizakele Nkosi-Malobane, the top management of
the Police as well as the leadership of Airports Company South Africa
(ACSA) which included the CEO of ACSA, Mr Bongani Maseko, the GM
of O.R. Tambo International Airport, Ms Bongiwe Pityi and ACSA’s Group
Manager for Security, Mr Jason Tshabalala. This meeting was informed
both by the ongoing concern around safety and security and the strategic
nature of O.R. Tambo International Airport, as one of the country’s
national key points.

O.R. Tambo International Airport is the biggest and the busiest airport in
South Africa. O.R. Tambo International Airport is not only a national key
point, but also plays a very strategic role in our country, last year alone,
approximately 21 million passengers passed through the airport, on this
basis, it remains the gateway to Africa as well as opens the door to millions
of international guests visiting our country annually. Therefore its security
is of paramount importance to the South African Police Service, as well
as the country as a whole.

As the Police Minister, on 6 June 2017, I visited O.R. Tambo International
Airport and met with Airport Management, to assess the state of security,
and I must admit that I was shocked by the low level of policing and police
visibility at the airport. I shared this concern with our parliamentarians in
Parliament that same day, and assured them that appropriate steps will
be taken to correct the situation.

As part of this morning’s meeting, we received a briefing from Airport
Management on the nature of crimes being committed at the airport, like
the R20m armed robbery where criminals impersonated police officers.
Another example, is a cash in transit that occurred on the 01st of April
where cash in transit was blown up with explosives on the R24 highway.
On the 15th May, a high-jacking and murder took place at the airport,
whereas on the 01st of July there was a Swissport warehouse armed
robbery. As we were about to receive the briefing this morning, an armed
robbery of a truck containing valuable goods coming from the airport was

We have identified the nature of the challenges that we need to respond
to at O.R. Tambo International Airport, with regards to the crime being
committed there. Simply put, part of the challenge is corruption and
collusion where police officers are in cahoots with criminals. An obvious
lack of police command and control is highly concerning and without it,
the ability to effectively manage deployed personnel at the airport will
remain a major challenge. We were further informed on the non-
implementation of policing measures put in place.

There are further challenges with regards to the non-existence of tactical crime intelligence. Furthermore we discussed an inherent lack of effective prosecution. We
need to revisit the steps put in place over the 2010 Soccer World Cup
period. There is a collective agreement that, we need to explore the 2010
Soccer World Cup strategy which was both efficient and effective.

We further discussed and reached agreement that it is critical to ensure
that as part of the long term, sustainable security plan, all people that work
at the airport need to be effectively vetted, so that we have a greater
appreciation of who is working and/or based at the airport.

On this basis, we jointly agreed that a more senior police officer with the
rank of Major General needs to be deployed to the airport and lead its
policing operation. The Major General will be based at the airport. As part
of this meeting, we have been reassured by the Executive Mayor of
Ekurhuleni Municipality, Mr Mzwandile Masina, that the city of Ekurhuleni
will deploy more EMPD officers to assist in curbing crime at O.R. Tambo
International Airport.

As part of the next steps, we have agreed to the following: There will be a
joint deployment to the airport that will include crime intelligence, the
Hawks, and detectives. This team will operate out of an operations room
where crime will be monitored on a daily basis at the airport and a report
will be sent to me on a weekly basis, on the progress being made in this
regard. It is also important to look at the nature of the security architecture
of South Africa and our ports of entry in particular.

Essentially what we are
saying is that criminals must not find it easy to commit crime in South
Africa. To indicate our seriousness, next Friday, 21 July 2017, we will
regroup here at the airport in order to flesh out a masterplan for security
with all government agencies within the security cluster.

Based on today’s meeting which involved all key stakeholders on the way
forward, we have a better appreciation of the nature of challenges we face
and we can assure South Africans that good, solid police men and women
are up to the task. As we speak, the leadership of SAPS is strengthening
the plan of fighting crime at O.R. Tambo International Airport.

In a very short space of time we will brief South Africans on the victories that we
would have achieved. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the
leadership of Airports Company South Africa (ACSA), for consistently
bringing their concerns to me and my office. As expressed as part of this
meeting, Airports Company South Africa’s role is to manage and develop
airports. This is what they do best and must continue to focus on as part
of their mandate. Ours as the SAPS, is to ensure that we keep this national
key point safe for all passengers and visitors to the airport and to our

We therefore want to be clear in sending a strong message to criminals
and those corrupt police officials who are in cahoots with criminals, that
your days are numbered. We will not tolerate a state of lawlessness where
criminals do as they please in our country. We therefore want to assure
South Africans and our international guests that their safety is our number
priority as the South African Police Service.

I thank you.

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