Cops warn of ‘airport gang’s’ modus operandi

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IOL pic oct14 ortambo airport access road

Independent Newspapers

File photo: Itumeleng English

Johannesburg - They spotted the family at the airport, followed them home, and attacked them in the driveway.

That’s the theory behind an armed robbery this week that left 21-year-old Josephine Kalala dead.

The second year marketing student from the DRC fetched her mother from OR Tambo International Airport on Sunday but was killed by a gang who held them up at gunpoint in the driveway when they got home. The robbers also made off with jewellery, luggage and $1 000 in cash (R11 220).

Police say they’ve launched a manhunt, and now everybody’s talking about “follow home” gangs. But it’s not the first time crimes of this nature have been reported. A rash of attacks last year led to talk of the “airport gang”.

Police said those crimes, too, targeted mostly African nationals who had just arrived back in the country and were attacked in driveways, robbed of their foreign currency:

* In November, two people at the City Lodge in Fourways were robbed after visiting a Forex branch. Police confirmed it was a “follow home” robbery from OR Tambo.

* Last September, former Nigerian consul-general Adams Abbas was attacked in a Magaliessig driveway after arriving in South Africa to visit family. One robber was killed when a gunfight broke out with security guards. The others made off with Abbas’s luggage and laptop.

* In July last year, former deputy finance minister Jabu Moleketi was robbed at gunpoint in his driveway in Observatory after returning to South Africa from a summit in Russia. The gang of three stole his luggage and valuables, said to be worth R70 000. Moleketi said he was followed from the airport, but police weren’t so sure.

* In May last year, Nigeria’s deputy high commissioner in South Africa Kayode Oguntuase and his wife Hailey were attacked in the driveway of their Waterkloof Ridge home in Pretoria. Oguntuase’s driver, who warned the couple to lock their doors as he thought they were being followed, was injured when the would-be robbers fired shots at the car windows.

How to protect yourself

* Be alert. If you have a large amount of money or foreign currency on you, watch if you’re followed.

* If you do suspect you’re being followed, do not go home. Instead drive to a police station.

* You can also call 10111 and ask the police to send a vehicle to assist you. – Additional reporting by Brendan Roane

[email protected]

The Star


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