File picture: Independent Media
Pretoria – The vehicles used during a brazen cash heist at the OR Tambo International Airport were bogus and did not belong to the SA Police Service (SAPS), acting national commissioner General Khomotso Phahlane said on Thursday.

Two police branded vehicles used in the robbery and fitted with blue lights were reportedly found abandoned in Pretoria on Wednesday.

"Bogus police vehicles were used in the commission of the crime, those were not police-owned vehicles...maybe you can ask business people out there who do vehicle markings about this. The suspects were armed and had one thing on their mind – to take whatever they came for," Phahlane told reporters in Pretoria.

The investigation into the heist was continuing after a task team was put together to find the robbers. Investigators were questioning members of SA Police Service (SAPS) and Airports Company of SA (ACSA) staffers. The scope of the investigation might be widened to include probing business people who deal with vehicle markings during the probe, said Phahlane.

Security has been beefed up in and around the airport. Phahlane said the robbery was a security breach which had been well planned, and that there was no evidence of corrupted officers and bribery, he said.

"There is no evidence that anyone was bribed to allow robbers through. Where there was criminality and it is found, it is dealt with accordingly. There is also no reason why we should doubt the competency of our officers at the airport, which is a national key point. This was a security breach and perpetrators will be brought to book."

Phahlane added that the possibility of the the cash heist being an inside job was not being ruled out. He could not confirm the amount of cash stolen, reported to be in excess of R24 million in foreign currency and destined for overseas.

"Even if we were to be told that the amount is 24 million...or 20 million, that is subject to an investigation and must be verified, including where the money was destined to. We are satisfied that the cargo was legitimate and destined to leave the country."

The robbery on Tuesday evening saw vehicles occupied by several armed men, some of whom were in police uniforms, access a restricted area of the airport. 

When requested to validate their credentials, the men produced firearms, rounded up security staff in the security checkpoint and ordered them to lie on the floor, according to ACSA. The group then proceeded to gain access to the air-side of the airport where they removed an undisclosed amount of money from a sealed container.

No shots were fired or injuries reported.

African News Agency