A frantic Joburg mother was so afraid of her daughter boarding a 1Time flight on Wednesday that she hatched a plot to stop her– and issued a bomb-scare warning.
Chaos followed as airline officials scurried in search of the deadly device, resulting in flight delays, confused passengers and enraged staff.
Bewildered passengers were transferred from the plane back to the terminal building, where they were handed juice and water by tight-lipped 1Time crew.
Then the police bomb squad and sniffer dogs were roped in to sniff out the bomb.
But nothing was found, said Western Cape police spokesman Sergeant Nigel Olifant.
After the plane eventually landed safely in George around 2pm, one of the passengers, who declined to be named, said: “Staff not saying anything. Plane landed, but captain just told us they received instruction for plane to stop where it did because they needed to do security check.
“Passengers pretty p***ed off that we had to leave all hand luggage.”
With no one giving any explanations regarding the drama around them, passengers could only guess it was a bomb. But by late on Wednesday night, those contacted said they had still not been told anything. “S**t, I hope we were not sitting on a bomb the entire flight,” said another female passenger.
1Time CEO Blacky Komani told The Star that the call made to the call centre had been traced to a mother who didn’t want her daughter to fly.
“She left a short message. She wanted to speak to the manager, and when the call centre agent put her through, she said: ‘I just wanted to let you know there is a bomb in one of your aircraft’,” said Komani.
With two flights in the air, the airline immediately notified its pilots and also ordered a search of all flights on the ground.
“After investigation, we found out this was a mother who didn’t want her daughter to fly, so she called… made a hoax bomb scare.”
It was not clear on Wednesday why the mother had not wanted her daughter to fly on the aircraft, and Airports Company SA spokesman Solomon Makgale would also not provide details, referring the matter back to 1Time.
Police could also not indicate what steps would be taken against the woman, with Western Cape police referring the matter to Gauteng police as the call had been made from Joburg.
Gauteng police spokeswoman Captain Pinky Tsinyane was not aware of the incident when contacted on Wednesday night.
* In 1997, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu’s son Trevor Tutu was granted amnesty following a 1989 bomb scare on an SAA plane at East London Airport. Tutu’s bomb threat caused a three-hour delay.
* In 2007, a man passing through a security checkpoint at Cape Town International Airport to board Kulula flight MN103 to Joburg told security he had a bomb in his luggage. When searched, the item was found to be a bathroom accessory. The man was arrested but later allowed to board his flight.
* In 2007, a man on a Joburg-bound Air Botswana flight was arrested after threatening cabin crew with a tube of lip balm and an asthma inhaler.
* In December 2008, several flights headed for Durban International Airport were diverted because of a bomb scare at the airport.