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Civil Aviation Authority probing airport K9 handling service over certification

Scorpion Risk Services provides dog handlers at ports of entry such as OR Tambo International Airport and Port Elizabeth International Airport, but their staff and dogs have been accused of not being certified.

A general view of the OR Tambo International Airport. Picture: Facebook.com

PRETORIA - The South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) has confirmed that it is investigating an airport canine handling service for allegedly conducting sweeps for explosives without the necessary training and certification.

Scorpion Risk Services provides dog handlers at ports of entry such as OR Tambo International Airport and Port Elizabeth International Airport, but their staff and dogs have been accused of not being certified.

A criminal complaint has been opened against the SACAA, BidAir Cargo and Scorpion for allegedly turning a blind eye to handlers who are unqualified.

The SACAA’s spokesperson Pappie Maja said they received their first complaint about Scorpion Risk Services having non-compliant handlers in September last year.

Maja did not disclose what the authority found but said that Scorpion then submitted a corrective action plan setting out measures to correct identified deficiencies.

He said that Scorpion was permitted to continue operating because of the agreed-upon plan but investigations were continuing.

Maja said the authority was satisfied that the safety and security of passengers had not been compromised.

But canine handler Bradford Wood - who opened a criminal complaint against the SACAA and Scorpion – disagreed, saying that dog handlers who simply don’t have the skills and expertise to identify explosives continue to screen cargo going onto aircraft.

Scorpion has not responded to a request for comment.

(Edited by Thapelo Lekabe)

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