Security at OR Tambo stays on high alert | Why a boy with a snake T-shirt was stopped at the boarding gate

2019-12-27 11:14 - Selene Brophy
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Airports across the world are on alert on any given day of the week - but during the peak summer season they need to be especially vigilant as traffic volumes spike. 

This has been the case across South Africa's main airports, with Airports Company South Africa confirming its heightened security drive at OR Tambo International Airport has seen an estimated 30 people arrested. 

PICS | Fake passports and 47 mini-alcohol bottles found on staff as OR Tambo tightens security with random searches   

But amid many covert surveillance exercises and extensive searches of staff at SA's busiest airport, some passengers might not be aware of the rules and regulations when passing through airport security.    

One such incident involved a 10-year-old boy from Wellington, en route to George to visit his Grandparents. Netwerk24 reports Stevie Lucas was on a family trip from New Zealand when OR Tambo staff asked him to take off an offending T-shirt, which shows a green snake picture draped over his shoulder.  

Betty Maloka, OR Tambo Senior Manager of Corporate Affairs confirmed the incident to Traveller24, saying snake toys and imprints are prohibited items. 

Surveillance cameras at the check-in point seen by Maloka indicate the boy took off his snake T-shirt and turned it inside-out and was then allowed to proceed.   

"The rules on items prohibited in the aircraft cabin are guided by standards set by the International Civil Aviation Organisation. In addition, the SA Civil Aviation Authority requires us to apply particular regulations consistently. While passengers sometimes cannot understand the prohibition of certain items, there has always been consideration of a range of factors before items are prohibited."

READ: Bombs away! How to get through airport security smoothly 

While Acsa says it cannot discuss the reasons for the prohibition of particular items - which has been drafted  "under the advice of law enforcement and state security agencies", can you imagine the anxiety if this minor was seated next to somebody with an extreme reptile phobia. It just sounds like a recipe for a delay or extreme mid-air freak out. 

Maloka says passengers should also note that security officers have the right to assess whether an object has the potential to cause harm or disturbance to fellow passengers and crew members that may have an anxiety factor for certain objects or imprints.

The list of prohibited items is set out below and parents as well as all passengers are advised to adhere to it. Safety and security heightened at OR Tambo during

"Ultimately, the safety and security of passengers is the first priority for an airport and the security officers to ensure that it is thoroughly implemented. These security measures are implemented in the interest of the safety and security of our passengers. As an airport, we always strive to ensure that our passengers have a pleasant experience as they go through our airport." 

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