JOHANNESBURG,The South African government is putting in place measures to combat rampant crime at the country's biggest and busiest port of entry, OR Tambo International Airport (ORTIA) here, says Police Minister Fikile Mbalula.

The strategies will see the people working at the airport vetted and rotated to curb corruption, tactical response which will be intensified, deployment of more police and security personnel, as well as searching of people entering and leaving the airport.

Everybody working here will be vetted and rotated. Those who are not needed will be asked to step aside. There will be extra deployment of personnel. The honeymoon is over for those stationed here for more than 10 years, Mbalula said Monday when he visited the airport and held meetings with the South African Police Service (SAPS) management, Department of State Security and the Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Police Department to discuss safety and security challenges at the airport.

What you see here will be intensified going forward. Our tactical response will be upped. We are unleashing all our important units to keep watch at the airport, the Minister said, adding that the plans would be evaluated on a daily basis.

Things won't be business as usual. This new security strategy won't be seasonal but is here to stay. The dangerous criminals must know we have an appointment with them. It is going to be a very horrible experience for them. If they come with their guns, they must pray to Satan because they will meet our forces on the ground. This is not just war-talk, this is real.

Crime activities in the country's busiest airport which is also a national key entry point has been making news headlines this year. The airport has had several security breaches recently although it has a highly visible police presence since its a national key point.

The most prominent incident this year was a brazen cash heist in March where millions of rand were stolenS allegedly with the help of some police officers. In May, a motorist was brazenly shot dead by criminals while driving towards the airport. Preliminary reports indicated that the driver was transporting a group of six business people from Johannesburg to the airport, and en route, at least one vehicle attempted to flag them down before shooting the driver.

In February, 271 kilogrammes of cocaine with a street value of 78 million Rand (about 5.8 million US dollars) were confiscated at the airport. The drugs were en route from Sao Paulo, Brazil, to Nairobi, Kenya, and were found in a cargo warehouse during routine operations. This was described as the biggest ever cocaine bust by Customs officials in South Africa.

Also in May, cocaine worth an estimated 3.6 million Rand was confiscated at the airport in two separate incidents on May 7 and 8. Last month, officials at the airport intercepted 10 rhino horns, weighing 24.96 kg and worth an estimated 4.99 million Rand.

In addition to these, reports of criminals tailing those leaving the airport to their homes to rob them has been a cause for concern. Mbalula said some of these crimes could have easily been foiled and prevented had it not been for the security forces at the airport who were corrupt.

Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK

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