Airports Company South Africa (Acsa) says it has raised its level of alertness, particularly heading towards the festive season, following the arrest of five people at OR Tambo International Airport – two Acsa staffers and three others working for companies operating at the airport – in connection with drug trafficking.
In a statement, Acsa reaffirmed its commitment to taking a zero-tolerance stance against fraud, corruption and any other types of illicit or criminal behaviour by its employees both direct and indirect at its airports.
The suspects were arrested following a special joint operation between Acsa and the Hawks which resulted in the identification and apprehension of the five.
The arrests are linked to a consignment of drugs that was seized in Australia recently, making this the first operation of its kind concerning transnational drug trafficking perpetrated through OR Tambo International Airport, where a drug seizure made abroad was positively linked to suspects in South Africa for their complicity.
They were expected to appear in the Kempton Park Magistrate’s Court on Friday on charges relating to drug trafficking, the contravention of the Civil Aviation Act and the contravention of the Customs and Excise Act.
Acsa said it recently adopted an integrated, multi-agency safety and security approach throughout its environment to enhance airport and aviation security in general.
Jabulani Khambule, the regional general manager for Acsa’s airport cluster which includes OR Tambo International Airport, lauded the Hawks and Acsa team involved in the operation.
“Acsa and SAPS are dedicated to making our national key points, which include our airport network, safe for all our passengers.
“We have raised our level of alertness, particularly as we head towards the festive season which is typically accompanied by an increase in the level of illicit trade,” Khambule said.
“Acsa will continue to support the investigation and cooperate fully with the Hawks and the National Prosecuting Authority to ensure that the perpetrators are brought to book and that they are prosecuted to the full extent of the law,” says Khambule.
“Acsa views this as an extremely serious offence and remains committed to countering drug trafficking through our airports.
“We hope that these arrests send a strong message to any employees who might be contemplating getting involved in such illicit activities – don’t do it, you will be caught.”