March 14 2017 – FOUR people, including a police officer, have been arrested in connection with the brazen cash heist at the OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, acting national police commissioner, Lieutenant-General Johannes Phahlane said on (today) Tuesday evening.
“Within a week of investigations and interviewing of people of interest in this case, we can confirm that four people have been taken in for questioning. Two have appeared in the Kempton Park Magistrate’s Court today [Tuesday] in connection with the heist,” Phahlane told reporters at a briefing in Pretoria.
Of the four suspects, Phahlane said two had earlier appeared in court on Tuesday.
“Two people are currently being questioned. It is regrettable that one of our own members is among the two [who haven’t appeared in court]. This confirms our version of not ruling out the possibility of collusion or an inside job.”
Phahlane said police officers are not escaping scrutiny as the net closes in on the armed robbers who got away with an undisclosed amount of cash — reported to be around R24 million — from the national key point.
“As the South African Police Service we would like to reiterate our stance that if we find that any of our members had a role to play, we will take decisive action. Our investigations continue and further court appearances and arrests are likely to be made,” he said.
“The SA Police Service would like to reassure all South Africans that we are committed to security our ports of entry and preventing and combating serious crimes of this nature.”
Asked about the detained police officer’s details including his/her station, Phahlane declined to give further details.
“Allow me at this stage to not disclose the details of this person until a point where the questioning is concluded. I can’t tell you about the station and so on,” said Phahlane.
The suspects face charges of armed robbery.
“There is no charge which is a heist. That is what is being pursued in this instance,” said Phahlane.
He congratulated the SAPS members for the arrests, which he said had been drives by crime intelligence, not tip-offs from the public.
“We are not solely dependent on tip-offs. Maybe you [media]should also start by congratulating crime intelligence [unit]for having worked hard in gathering intelligence which led us to be successful in apprehending some of those that were involved. It was not rip-offs based but based on intelligence,” said Phahlane.
Pressed for further details regarding the suspects, the police chief also says the two who appeared in court are “African males”.
“I am not going to profile their finer details at this stage,” he said.
On Tuesday last week, a gang of robbers made off with the undisclosed amount of cash from Africa’s biggest and busiest airport. Some of the gang members were allegedly wearing police uniforms. No shots were fired.
The money has not been recovered.
The exact amount of money stolen, the currency and its intended destination is also part of the ongoing intensive police investigation.
Numerous police officers man the airport, conducting duties including escorting valuable cargo between the vault and aircraft and vice versa. They also do general crime prevention activities in the airport. – ANA