A Randburg woman who issued a bomb-scare warning on a 1Time flight from Joburg to George in a nervous bid to prevent her daughter from flying has been arrested.
The woman was arrested at her home on Thursday following a chaotic incident that left passengers confused and airline officials scurrying around in search of the deadly device.
“Police detectives from OR Tambo (International Airport) are busy with investigations. They arrested one person from a residence in Randburg. Hoax calls are very serious criminal offences and, along with the NPA (National Prosecuting Authority), we will be calling for a severe sentence,” Gauteng police spokesman Captain Dennis Adriao said.
He said the 49-year-old woman would appear in the Kempton Park Magistrate’s Court on Friday on charges of contravening the civil aviation and explosives acts.
The woman’s bomb-scare plot started with a short call to the 1Time call centre on Wednesday: “I just wanted to let you know there is a bomb in one of your aircraft.”
With two flights in the air, the airline immediately notified its pilots and also ordered a search of all flights on the ground, said CEO Blacky Komani.
“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,” he said.
The search had included the immediate evacuation of passengers who had been on the airborne flights as soon as their flights landed.
Bewildered passengers in George were quickly transferred into the terminal building, having been ordered to leave all their hand luggage on the plane.
As they were handed juice and water by a tight-lipped 1Time crew, police sniffer dogs and the bomb squad swarmed over the aircraft in search for the device. But nothing was found.
“S***, I hope we weren’t sitting on a bomb the entire flight,” said a passenger as they watched police officers searching the aircraft.
Komani said they viewed the incident in a serious light.
“We take this matter very seriously. I think the law must take its course. It’s regrettable that she did what she did, but it’s also the safety of other passengers that we have to take into consideration. It doesn’t matter what the circumstances are,” he said.
The airline had suffered “no tangible loss”.