OR Tambo Multi-million Cash Heist: Johannesburg’s OR Tambo International Airport was hit by another gutsy and audacious heist on Tuesday evening.
As gathered, a gang of at least eight robbers armed with a marked police van and two high-powered vehicles‚ wearing police uniforms drove up to a South African Airways flight‚ attacked guards from GuardForce and intercepted a container holding a large sum of money which was about to be loaded onto the aircraft. The aircraft was bound for London.
The robbers reportedly overpowered guards at the airport’s Super South Entrance‚ before they used several of their access cards to open gates and gain access to the tarmac. They fled the scene before the police could stop them. The incidence occurred around 7pm.
Hawks’ spokesperson Hangwani Mulaudzi confirmed that a total of R24 million was stolen from a plane and that a high-level investigation, involving all law enforcement agencies, is underway.
An eyewitness alleged that the incidence occurred when police were changing shifts.
The Airports Company South Africa (Acsa) spokesperson Trevor Jones confirmed in a statement that no shots were fired and no injuries have so far been reported. Jones disclosed that the robbers fled immediately after the robbery.
Meanwhile, Police said they are not ruling out the possibility of the involvement of an organized crime syndicate at OR Tambo International Airport.
“We can’t rule out anything. Please give us time to investigate. We still have to meet with Airports Company South Africa (Acsa) and conduct security checks. It’s still premature to make any pronouncements.”
Following the incidence, South Africans have weighed in on the shocking robbery. While there are questions around how the suspects passed through airport security, several independent sources insisted that the heist has every feature of an organized crime.
In fact, reliable sources said following evidence gathered from the scene, the Hawks investigators have quizzed several policemen about the matter.
Twitter users also had a field day deliberating on the heist.
OR Tambo Heist#ZAR24 Million stolen#How did the criminals know?🤷🏿♂️🤔? #This robbery has "Inside Job" written all over it.
— Xigwili Mapimele (@gwily) March 7, 2017
Some users expressed disappointment at the country’s waning state security system.
There was a R24 million heist at OR Tambo last night & they didn't know or stop it but they want 2 regulate Social Media pic.twitter.com/UioiHOyEW7
— Tumi Sole (@tumisole) March 8, 2017
Robbers stole whole R24m at the OR Tambo Airport. A NATIONAL KEY POINT. Meanwhile our Intelligence Minister is stressing about Social Media.
— LesetjaMO (@MoLesetja) March 7, 2017
— Sikhosonke (@psyckhosonkevic) March 8, 2017
On a lighter note, though, a social media user said he is waiting for Malema to name the perpetrators and their sponsors.
On the whole OR Tambo robbery, I'll wait for Julius Malema to tell us what happened. Who in the inside was involved in the R24m heist
— MzanziFollo🚂🚊🇿🇦 (@Ernest_Selala) March 8, 2017
On Wednesday, the South African Airways (SAA) issued a statement, clarifying Tuesday night’s brazen robbery at OR Tambo International Airport.
SAA said the incident happened on what is known as the air side of the airport and that the flight inside was not affected.
Spokesperson Tlali Tlali said: “It happened at a time before the consignment, which contained high-value items, was due to be loaded into the aircraft. At the time when it happened, the aircraft was not anywhere near.”
In the meantime, the acting National Police Commissioner Kgomotso Phahlane has assured travelers of their safety, urging them to go about their normal business without fear.
His spokesperson Athlende Mathe said: “The acting National Police Commissioner will like to assure South Africans that our police officers will do everything humanly possible to ensure that there’s a thorough investigation into the matter, and ensure the safety of the members of the public.”
In 2006, robbers made off with R100 million from a plane carrying foreign currency at the same airport. Most of the suspects were convicted in 2012.