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Corrupt cops may be involved in Johannesburg airport heist

CAPE TOWN South Africa (Xinhua) -- South Africa’s opposition party on Wednesday called for an independent investigation into suspected involvement of corrupt cops in an airport heist of a large amount of cash.

This came after an astounding 24 million rand (about 1.9 million U.S. dollars) in cash was reportedly stolen from a South African Airways plane at the OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg.

A group of armed suspects posing as police in a marked police vehicle allegedly intercepted security guards as they were transporting money to a waiting aircraft. No shots were fired and no injuries have been reported.

“The use of a police vehicle in this incident is extremely concerning and could point to the involvement of corrupt cops,” the Democratic Alliance (DA) said in a statement.

The DA said it will write to the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) to request that it conducts a thorough investigation into whether or not South African Police Services (SAPS) members or assets were involved in the heist.

The DA will also submit parliamentary questions to find out how many SAPS vehicles and firearms have been found to have been used for criminal activity, as well as how many SAPS members have been found guilty of criminal offences, DA Shadow Minister of Police Zakhele Mbhele said in Cape Town.

Furthermore, the DA will also be submitting questions to the Ministers of Police and Transport to determine the state of security at the country’s airports, said Mbhele.

“The SAPS should be protecting the lives and property of South Africa’s people and we should not be seeing the use of official resources by corrupt cops to enrich themselves,” Mbhele said.

Meanwhile, the Airports Company South Africa (ACSA) said it is working closely with law enforcement agencies to arrest those behind the armed robbery.

“South African Police Service and Airports Company South Africa is working closely with other law enforcement agencies to apprehend the suspects. The investigation is at an early stage,” the ACSA said.

The SAPS said involvement of corrupt cops could not be ruled out.

The boldness of the criminals as well as their ability to gain access to a secure area highlights the severity of crime in South Africa.

It is not the first time that large amount of cash was stolen at Johannesburg’s central airport.

In 2006, an estimated 7.67 million dollars were stolen from an international aircraft at the same airport.


South African police chief assures public of airport safety after heist

CAPE TOWN South Africa (Xinhua) -- Acting National Police Commissioner Khomotso Phahlane said on Thursday that all measures will be taken to ensure the safety of South African airports.

The South African Police Service (SAPS) has already embarked on a process to identify security shortcomings and to implement measures to enhance airport safety, Phahlane said at a press briefing in Pretoria.

He was speaking after an astounding amount of 24 million rand (about 1.9 million US dollars) in cash was stolen from a South African Airways plane at the OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg on Tuesday night.

A group of armed suspects posing as police officers in a marked police vehicle intercepted security guards as they were transporting money to a waiting aircraft. No shots were fired and no injuries have been reported.

The SAPS views the armed robbery and the attendant security breaches "in a serious light," Phahlane said.

Although this incident is regrettable and unfortunate, the SAPS and all role players are compelled to continuously review the security measures aimed at curbing the recurrence of incidents of this nature, said Phahlane.

"We can assure our communities and visitors to our country that we are doing everything possible to ensure that the robbery and all circumstances surrounding the incident form the subject of an intensive, multi-disciplinary investigation," he said.

Phahlane said initial speculation pointed to a police vehicle having been used to commit the crime.

However, he said a vehicle which was believed to be used in the heist and was found abandoned in Mamelodi near Pretoria proved to be one with fake police markings.

"When the perpetrators are arrested, we would not be surprised to learn that some of them were bogus police officers.

"However, we will investigate and arrest objectively and should we find evidence of any type of police or other collusion we will take decisive action," he said.

If bona fide police uniforms or equipment were used by the suspects, the source of those uniforms/equipment will also form part of the investigations, said Phahlane.

The process of the investigation is underway which includes interviewing all role players and personnel charged with duties in and around the airport, according to the police chief.

The OR Tambo International Airport is notorious for armed robberies.

Reports suggest that up to 10 heists, with the same modus operandi, have occurred at the same airport last year.

Many of these heists have been carried out by individuals dressed in police uniforms.


South African apartheid victims demand reparations

JOHANNESBURG South Africa (Xinhua) -- South African victims of apartheid met the Department of Justice in Pretoria on Wednesday to demand compensation for the injuries suffered during the white minority rule.

About 28 representatives of apartheid victims and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) officials met the government officials to raise their concerns.

TRC is a court-like body which was formed after apartheid to hear the stories of war time abuse and give amnesty and prosecute others. It is also to heal the wounds of apartheid and allow transition into an independent South Africa.

Siphamandla Dlamini, TRC beneficiary group leader told Xinhua that they had submitted their petition to government, asking it to fulfill its promises.

Dlamini said, “We met the government officials today to raise our concerns over non-fulfillment about their promises. Through the TRC they promised compensation, assistance with education and bursary, housing, medical aid, and community rehabilitation and that has not been done.”

There are about 16,800 apartheid victims who were supposed to get a once-off reparation grant of 2,300 U.S. dollars from the Presidential Victims Reparations Fund starting in 2005. The money was supposed to bring social and economic transformation in the lives of the survivors.

Dlamini said the TRC recommendations have not been fully implemented. The petition also includes the payment to 120,000 liberation struggle veterans.

“We gave the government five days to respond to our petition and if they fail we will call for nationwide demonstrations where our members will come from all over the country and protest in Pretoria,” he added.

Dlamini said there has been no inclusive settlement of the TRC recommendations for reparations and rehabilitations for all victims and survivors.

He said there is a danger that transgenerational transmission of trauma if the rehabilitation is not done. Some South Africans lost their arms and limbs during the liberation struggle while some were left crippled. Some lost their lives.

Xinhua failed to get a comment from the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development. Dlamini said the government promised to study their concerns and respond.



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