Stock photo of OR Tambo International Airport.

Johannesburg - A Joburg man said he and his wife were embarrassed by airport security patting them down in front of other passengers before they boarded a flight to the US.

Mohamed Bhamjee was travelling to New York from OR Tambo International Airport with his wife on September 1.

The security checks began when they were about to board.

He said he did not object to the checks, but had asked that the pat-downs be done in private or not in sight of the other passengers.

Bhamjee alleged that the security staff had told him they could do the search “where they liked”.

“We were extremely upset,” said Bhamjee, who estimated that more than 100 people were watching.

The Airports Company SA (Acsa) regretted “the unpleasant experience” but said the searches were standard procedure.

“Private hand searches are only done in special cases. For example, where a passenger is disabled or feeling sick.

“Strip-down searches are done in private,” said spokeswoman Unathi Batyashe-Fillis.

She said this had been explained to Bhamjee by a security manager.

Bhamjee said he had phoned Acsa on his return, but the company could not explain why the search had to be done in public view. He said they had also not phoned him back.

Acsa asked him to provide the offending person’s name.

The Star