Weapons pass airport security

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Pistols, knives and weapon magazine clips were among items passing through South African airports over the past four years, Transport Minister Ben Martins revealed. File photo by Cara Viereckl.

Parliament - Pistols, knives and weapon magazine clips were among items passing through South African airports over the past four years, Transport Minister Ben Martins revealed on Wednesday.

Replying in writing to a parliamentary question, Martins categorised security breaches under the administration of the Airports Company of SA as unlawful access to restricted areas, bomb threats and screening failures.

In the last financial year, six cases of people entering restricted areas at airports were recorded, five at OR Tambo International and one at Cape Town International.

Five culprits were caught, while one died as a result of stowing away on a flight.

During the same period, four bomb threats were made, one each at OR Tambo International and King Shaka International, with two recorded at Cape Town airport.

Sweeps were done and no explosive devices were found.

Three cases of screening failures were reported, two at OR Tambo International and one in Cape Town.

This included a loaded magazine for a firearm found in baggage from a passenger from a neighbouring country, as well as a staff member entering the airport with a small knife.

Perhaps more startling was a case reported by Nigerian officials.

“Nigeria reported that a passenger arrived with two air pistols, 10 bulletproof vests, and five knives,” said Martins.

Other items found in the passenger's suitcases included uniforms, military combat caps, fez caps, walkie-talkies, tasers, knee pads, teargas, chargers, batons and traffic bars.

“All equipment was in hold baggage and therefore not detected during screening, as no explosives were involved,” said Martins. - Sapa


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