The Hand in the Dark
Stunned television viewers of the investigative journalism programme, Carte Blanche gasped as they tuned in one Sunday evening. Viewership of this programme is widespread across the DSTV connected world in Africa and Asia. They watched a broadcast of CCTV footage on the Group’s premier channel, MNET with disbelief. A hand would appear from the dark and snatch the luggage from the conveyor belts in the Hold Baggage Screening (HBS) area of O.R Tambo Int. Airport. Airline passenger valuables were stolen in a place which is supposed to enjoy top security. Judging from the callers’ comments, viewers were livid.
Bosasa Security was then contracted to safeguard luggage in the HBS area at the height of this menace. The size of the HBS already posed a challenge. Add to that a roller coaster type network of conveyor belts that runs into kilometres. Walking through this labyrinth of crevices, nooks and crannies it is easy to see that only a tiny person could crisscross this network. It presented a mammoth task..
The basement at the airport’s HBS is not a habitable place but hoodlums found a way of setting camp there for days. Gaining access through the food court ceiling, they would crouch through the length of the Airports ‘attic’ until they reached the HBS areas. They clearly have extraordinary knowledge of the access and exit areas of the airport.
A contractor that had been hired to install ventilation channels did not help either. They conveniently left gaping holes in the wall below the ceiling and just a few metres above some of the furthest corners of the conveyor belts. Michael Mlonzo - Bosasa Security coordinator of the HBS - says he always takes 4 of his best security officers when they inspect these scary areas around the conveyor belts. “The gang members we flush out are armed and often they start attacking us even before we reach the areas in which they are holed up.”
The danger of falling to their death or being electrocuted by the many motors that drive the conveyor belts is omnipresent. Being hooked by the conveyor belts and shredded as they drag you through sharp edges is also possibility which is feared at all times.
You have to take your hat off to these Bosasa Security men and women.