At least two travel bags were broken into at OR Tambo International Airport a day and 707 cases were reported last year, with Colognes topping the list of targeted items. File picture: Mujahid Safodien/AP
At least two travel bags were broken into at OR Tambo International Airport a day and 707 cases were reported last year, with Colognes topping the list of targeted items. File picture: Mujahid Safodien/AP

707 travellers' bags were broken into at OR Tambo airport last year

By Chulumanco Mahamba Time of article published Mar 25, 2020

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At least two travel bags were broken into at OR Tambo International Airport a day and 707 cases were reported last year, with Colognes topping the list of targeted items.

Although the airport has recently implemented ways to curb the breaking and theft of travellers’ bags by workers, it is still struggling to end the scourge.

Frequently disgruntled travellers whose personal possessions were stolen from their bags take to social media to express their complaints to numerous airlines.

ORT spokesperson Betty Maloka told The Star that like most airports in the world, it used the World Tracer system to track baggage reports.

“Figures from World Tracer for 2019 show that the airport received an average of 1.93 baggage incident reports per day out of an average of 27743 bags processed per day over the year. In total, the airport processed 10.1million bags in 2019 with 707 incidents reported through World Tracer,” she said.

A South African businessman based in Namibia who frequently travelled between the countries, told The Star that, since January, his possessions were stolen from his luggage three times.

The man, who asked not to be named, said the first incident happened when he was travelling from Swaziland to Windhoek via ORT with a suitcase that was locked.

“When I got home, I opened it up and I could see that there was cologne missing and I could see that they had absolutely gone through my whole bag,” he said.

The second incident happened when he came back home from Windhoek.

“A watch was stolen from the bag and cologne was stolen again but I claimed with my insurer because I knew there was no way I was going to put in a second claim which paid me half of the items worth,” he said.

During the third incident, the lock on his bag was completely broken and sneakers and Cologne were stolen. He also found a Zimbabwean SIM card inside. The man subsequently opened a case with the police.

Another disgruntled traveller, food blogger Luyanda Mfanyana, travelled to Italy last month. She locked and wrapped her bag in plastic before departing. “When I arrived in Rome my bag was damaged and opened and two perfumes were missing that were probably worth R4000 or R5000,” she said.

Mfanyana said her bag was repaired but she was nervous about whether something was placed inside her bag.

Rhodes University student Kuku Shivute, who also travelled often between South Africa and Namibia, said perfumes and biltong as well as jewellery have been stolen from her bags.

“I feel like they make the claiming process difficult. I needed to give receipts of the stolen items but it doesn’t make sense because, for example, I had them for a while and didn’t have receipts because they were gifts,” she said.

During the festive season, the airport conducted a security and stop-and-search operation which resulted in 33 arrests. Since the festive season, there were 14 more cases that were opened with arrests.

National SAPS spokesperson Colonel Brenda Muridili said the number of cases opened at all airports across the country had not been released yet.

Maloka said baggage reports airport received from the World Tracer system tended to vary according to the time of year.

During the festive season operation, searches led to the discoveries of five tools that could be used to open bags. @Chulu_M

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