'Highly organised syndicate behind OR Tambo heist'

The South African Banking Risk Information Centre says the currency heist was carried out using accurate information.

Picture: Pixabay.com

JOHANNESBURG – The South African Banking Risk Information Centre (Sabric) says it’s evident that the brazen heist at OR Tambo International Airport was carried out using accurate information which resulted in the robbers getting away with millions of rand.

A gang intercepted a consignment on Tuesday night shortly before it was due to be loaded onto an international flight.

The police and the Hawks are working closely with the Airports Company South Africa to investigate and track down the robbers.

Sabric says a highly skilled organised syndicate is behind the heist.

CEO Kalyani Pillay says, “We’re hoping that the arrests that will be made will actually have a positive impact on any future attacks and also be able to identify people that have been involved with other attacks.”

HOW DID ROBBERS GAIN ACCESS?

Authorities are investigating how the gang of robbers managed to bypass strict security at OR Tambo International Airport before making off with a consignment of expensive items.

The gang intercepted the consignment shortly before it was due to be loaded onto an international flight; it’s still unclear how the gang managed to enter the restricted area.

National police are working closely with Acsa and South African Airways (SAA) to determine how the brazen heist was carried out.

SAA spokesperson Tlali Tlali said they are investigating all possibilities and can’t rule out that inside information was handed out to criminals.

“They may have received assistance from certain individuals.”

Several investigations are now underway to get to the bottom of robbery, while SAA says its own probe will determine whether any disciplinary steps need to be taken against airline staff.

INSIDE JOB

The organisation which represents air cargo handlers is convinced the robbery at the airport was an inside job.

Rautenbach said it’s simply impossible to gain access to the air side cargo area without help from someone on the inside.

“The gates must have been opened by security guards to get in and get out. Otherwise, the person will be identified by finger prints, by air flight access card, the vehicle had to be searched before it entered and before it exits. Clearly that procedure was not followed.”

He said the association has been trying since 2007 to improve security and access control to the area, but they’ve received very little co-operation from Airports Company South Africa.

(Edited by Leeto M Khoza)