Acsa asks travellers to be vigilant after heist raises OR Tambo security concerns

2016-11-21 15:48 - Selene Brophy
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Cape Town - Airports Company South Africa (Acsa) says it takes the safety and security of all people that make use of our facilities seriously, following complaints that "safety at the airport had been severely compromised".

This follows the news that former North West DG Professor Job Mokgoro had been robbed after returning from a business trip to Australia on Sunday morning.

According to Mokgoro the incident appeared well-orchestrated as he had a hunch that he was being followed after exchanging his forex at OR Tambo International.  The robbers allegedly followed him home and took his changed cash, luggage and cellphone. Read the full News24 report here.

SEE - ALERT: Travellers warned about making cash transactions at OR Tambo  

Mokgoro also states four sets of police officers who took his statement all "warned not to make transactions at the airport".

“There should be warning signs to brief people on this if they [police] have noted these trends. We should see some type of effort to caution the public. I have been a victim today and I owe it to society to make sure it shouldn’t happen to the next person,” he says.

WATCH: Keeping safe this festive season

Acsa responded by saying, "We invest significant resources to ensure that all our facilities have a comprehensive security management system to protect our customers and personnel from any harm. 

"Managing safety and security within our airports is a collaborative effort between Airports Company South Africa and our security cluster stakeholders who ensure public safety at all ports of entry and national key points. They include, but are not limited to the South African Police Services and its specialist units, State Security Agency (SSA), the South African Revenue Services Customs and the Ekurhuleni Metro Police Department."

"We advise our passengers to be vigilant at all times and if they have any concerns regarding their safety to bring it to the attention of any South African Police Service (SAPS) members stationed at our airports or report it to an Airports Company South Africa official," says Acsa. 

SEE: Uber changes pick-up regulations at SA international airports

The DA has also highlighted concerns about the perceived lack of security, stating safety at the Gauteng airport "has been severely comprised in the past few weeks". 

While Acsa has been working to improve security measures on the air-side of its international airport operations with newly piloted scanning systems, it appears key stakeholders have complained that security around the airport is lacking. 

SEE: Everything you need to know about the new Security System at OR Tambo 

According to reports DA Gauteng MPL Michele Clarke, she has recently received complaints from travellers who arrived late at the airport and "felt unsafe walking to the parking garage and to catch a taxi-cab". 

“I have been followed to my car on three occasions and in one instance I was accosted by a group of young men asking for money,” says Clarke.

DA MP James Vos says they are concerned that crime could place South Africa’s travel and trade image in jeopardy, "which would negatively impact the industry and lead to more jobs being lost on top of a decrease in foreign investment" and is calling for an impact assessment to be done on the crime within the tourism industry.

"The travel and tourism industry is constantly subjected to change both internal and external. The world has experienced an increase in terrorism and terrorist events, such as September 11th 2001, which have caused significant changes in air travel and passengers perception of safety. As a result, airport screening and travel safety regulations have undergone scrupulous changes. 

SEE: One year on: After bloodbath, Paris fights to woo back tourists

"Our Airports are the gateways to South Africa's tourism markets. Government must ensure co-ordinated and integrated security systems to ensure that airports as national key points and those traveling through it remains safe. We therefore need better safety measures and an impact assessment to be done on how crime affects the tourism industry," says Vos

Vos highlighted the recent US travel advisory issued for South Africa in which it warned its citizens through an embassy statement that South Africa is not safe. 

SEE: US Terror Alert: Security increased across SA malls

"Earlier this year, our country was placed sixth on the list of the World’s Most Fatal Places for Brits to travel to. Crime has a serious effect on South African citizens, but also on visitors. This places our country at risk in terms of travel and trade - something which we cannot afford, considering the current economic climate and more importantly because one job is created for every twelve tourist arrivals."

"Business conferencing is one of South Africa’s key tourism sectors. In the past five years, the Western Cape alone secured over 120 bids and conferences, with an economic impact of R25.4 billion."

"Government must do everything possible to make our country safer for our citizens as well as those visiting our shores."  

Have you ever experienced anything or felt unsafe when leaving any of South Africa's airports, we'd like to hear your views on the matter - email

Money safety tips to keep in mind when travelling:

Before you leave:

• Travel light – Carry a handbag with a cross body strap. This will free up your hands and help you keep hold of your belongings in busy crowds. 
• Share updates – Notify the bank that issued the card to let them know where you are going and the timeframe that you will be using your Visa card.
• Have a plan B – Make a note of your payment card numbers, balances, and your bank’s telephone numbers and keep them in a safe place in case of an emergency.
• Be vigilant – Save all your receipts and check your account statement. Contact your bank immediately if there are any incorrect or suspicious transactions.

During your trip: How to keep your money safe

• Plastic not paper – Consider using a credit card or prepaid travel card instead of carrying too much cash with you.  Alternatively, if you do need cash, use your debit card to withdraw small sums from ATMs. When using an ATM, try to avoid machines located in poorly lit or hidden areas. 
• Keep your PIN safe –Never write down your Personal Identification Number (PIN) - memorize it and don’t disclose it to anyone.
• Look after your card – Avoid leaving cards unattended at work, in a hotel room, recreation areas, or in a locked or unlocked vehicle. Take advantage of the safe or security box provided by the hotel for your valuables. Cover the keypad when you enter your PIN, and if you notice suspicious activity, cancel your transaction and report to your issuing bank. In case your card is lost or stolen, notify the issuer immediately and request a new card.
• Spending money – Use your card securely at retail stores. Keep your card in sight when making a purchase or payment. Ensure that you get your card back immediately after every purchase and check your card when it is returned to you.

Post Trip: When you come home

• Check your receipts – Go through your receipts and make sure they match your monthly statement.
• Contact your card issuer right away – If you see a charge you don't recognize or if you notice any inconsistencies, contact your financial institution immediately.

What to read next on Traveller24:

Festive Season Crime: Holidaymakers warned against 3 common scams

R400k hotel payment scam: Risks of travel fraud increasing - expert

Top 10 travel scams as told by a travel expert

(Safety tips source:Visa secure)