File picture: Mujahid Safodien/AP
Transport Minister Blade Ndzimande has asked his department to urgently look at complaints of bag tampering and theft at OR Tambo International Airport in Gauteng.

Scores of passengers have come forward saying they luggage was tampered with and valuables stolen - either arriving at other airports or in Johannesburg.

Anti-crime activist Yusuf Abramjee raised concerns on social media this week and called for “urgent interventions”.

The Airports Company of South Africa (Acsa) responded, saying it was the responsibility of airlines to safeguard and handle luggage.

FlySafair admitted that bag tempering was a problem.

The airline said it was willing to put R100000 on the table for “any party that can come forward and curb this”.

On Friday, Mango Airlines responded to Abramjee, saying the airline was aware of the issue of bag tampering and theft at airports.

“We continue to put measures in place to mitigate against the problem. Like other airlines, we encourage our guests to open criminal cases to get law enforcement agencies to intervene.”

Abramjee said “dozens of passengers have come forward. Many are saying the airlines are not helpful.”

Abramjee tweeted: “RETWEET to demand action from the airlines as well as @Airports_ZA @ortambo_int @SAPoliceService & @DoTransport to stop bag tempering and theft of items. It’s widespread! Bag handlers are running amok. @DrBladeNzimande @Derek_Hanekom @Tourism_gov_za #CrimeWatch #AirportTheft”

He added: “Getting more and more reports of bags of passengers being broken into at @ortambo_int and valuables being stolen. This must be stopped! Urgent interventions are required. @Airports_ZA #CrimeWatch @SAPoliceService @GP_CommSafety @DoTransport @DrBladeNzimande @GovernmentZA.”

Well-known Islamic scholar Qari Ziyaad Patel said he flew out of OR Tambo International on an Emirates flight this week.

“Just landed into #Birmingham & was saddened to find that my bags have been broken into. Bag covers were removed & belongings stolen. @EmiratesSupport @emirates bags were checked in as priority. How is this still happening. Please advise the way forward. @ortambo_int @Abramjee” he wrote on Twitter.

Another Twitter user Dominic Chimhavi @DChimhavi wrote: “I lost 20 @BafanaBafana jerseys I was supposed to take to Spain to LaLiga offices as a gift. I only realized when I arrived in Madrid that my bag had been tempered with at ORTAMBO International Airport. It is just wrong!”

Scores of other travellers have also tweeted about their experiences at OR Tambo airport.

@sallyshuttle tweeted: “ The bags of 5 of my friends were torn open by baggage handlers with the TSA lock. All on same flight. 5!!!!!!”

Abramjee said he had written to Minister Ndzimande to call for “immediate interventions.”

Abramjee said Acsa and airlines should take full responsibility.

“You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to stop this problem. You need police to get involved and you need Intelligence and surveillance,” Abramjee, who presents Crime Watch on eNCA said.

He said “the airport has become a haven for criminals. This is going to also affect tourism and government must act decisively. OR Tambo International is a national key point.”

Abramjee said he will also be calling on the Police Minister, Bheki Cele, to “take decisive action.”

Saturday Star