No snakes on this plane

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Zianne Botha, 5, with her snakes before they were confiscated from her at OR Tambo Airport

Cape Town - No snakes on the plane for two Table View, Cape Town, children – not even if the snakes are bright, fluffy and used as pillows during international flights.

Security guards at OR Tambo International Airport confiscated two fabric snakes from Zianne Botha, five, and her brother, six, leaving them crying for their cuddly toys.

The children had been to visit their grandmother in Nashville, in the US, and were about to board a final flight from Joburg back home to Cape Town when their stuffed snakes were seized.

“It was their Christmas present from their grandmother, whom they haven’t seen in three years,” said their father, SJ Botha. “They were crying.”

Guards confiscated the toys as the family went through the security scanners.

“They said we’re not allowed a replica of a snake,” Botha said. “It’s not a plastic thing. If it was one of those little rubber ones, I would understand. But these are like a teddy bear – the kids use them as pillows.”

But security would have none of it.

“They were on their way to go call the police,” Botha said. “They said we’re not allowed snakes on the plane.”

Luckily, his brother-in-law, Neil Jordaan, was still at the airport to wave them off, and he saved the offending toys.

Jordaan stays in Mpumalanga, and had come to the airport to see the family during their short layover at OR Tambo.

“Now the stuffed toys are in Middelburg, and the kids in Cape Town, not even considering the tears,” he said.

“I have always suspected the security guards prohibiting items for personal gain.”

Airports Company South Africa is investigating the case.

Spokesperson Unathi Batyashe-Fillis said: “There’s a designated bin where all the confiscated goods are thrown. It is kept locked, so if you put something in there, you can’t just open it up when you knock off work.

“The keys are kept by the manager, and then, after a while, they open it up and take the goods to the SAPS.

“If anyone suspects that any one of our security guards is acting illegally, they should definitely contact us or go to the police.”

Jordaan plans to post the fluffy snakes to the children – hopefully not by airmail. - Cape Argus

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