JOHANNESBURG – A high-level investigation by the Hawks and other law enforcement agencies is underway following a robbery of alleged millions of rands at OR Tambo International Airport.
An armed group reportedly made off with millions of rand during a robbery at OR Tambo International Airport on Tuesday night.
It’s understood the gang made its way into the airport and stole the money from a South African Airways plane.
While officials won’t give the exact amount taken, reports say it amounts to more than R20 million.
Airports Company South Africa in a statement said there were no injuries reported and no shots fired.
The Hawks’s Hangwani Mulaudzi says while the details are still sketchy at the moment an in-depth investigation is underway.
“There’s a high-level investigation that is underway, which includes ourselves the Hawks and the police and other agencies.”
Mulaudzi says the Hawks cannot confirm the amount stolen yet.
In 2006‚ about R100 million was stolen in an Oceans Eleven style heist at OR Tambo Airport. The gang colluded with three airport employees in robbing an international flight carrying foreign currency destined for FNB and Standard Bank.
And in October 2014‚ robbers‚ armed with semi-automatic rifles‚ rammed a Brinks Global Services bakkie as it left OR Tambo International Airport’s cargo section in Johannesburg. It is believed the money‚ said to include dollars‚ euros and pounds‚ had just been flown into the country when the vehicle was attacked. All the cash was taken. Gunmen rammed the unmarked vehicle‚ damaging it extensively as it left the airport’s cargo section. As several gunmen tried to force the driver and his two crew from the bakkie‚ others removed the canopy‚ breaking open the safe before fleeing with the cash. The guards‚ who were injured in the collision‚ were taken to hospital.
Also in 2014‚ 18 members of a gang that shadowed travellers leaving OR Tambo were arrested. The breakthrough was attributed to the deployment of highly experienced retired detectives‚ an innovation that then national police commissioner Riah Phiyega said was crucial in dealing with high-profile crimes.
GuardForce is responsible for securing high risk cargo‚ such as money‚ precious metals and diamonds‚ at a cargo storage facility at the airport.
Hawks spokesman Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi confirmed the robbery.
“A high level investigation has been launched but it is sensitive at this stage‚ so we cannot release any further details‚” he said.
PHAHLANE TIGHTENS SECURITY
Acting National Police Commissioner Kgomotso Phahlane has deployed a team of senior investigators to determine how a large amount of money was stolen during the heist.
Details are still sketchy and the authorities remain mum on how the money was stolen and the amount of cash which has disappeared.
Phahlane’s office says they can’t divulge any details regarding the investigation yet, as the authorities still try to gather more clarity about what transpired here last night.
Phahlane’s spokesperson Athlenda Mathe says the team is working closely with the Hawks
“We’re not in a position to speak further on the matter until we’ve more facts. We can confirm that we’re working alongside the Airport Company of South Africa.”
It seems to be business as usual at the airport, with commuters and travellers streaming into the departure terminals.
The police commissioner’s office says travellers’ security remains top of his priority following the robbery here last night.