Baggage pilfering at OR Tambo makes international news

Baggage pilfering at OR Tambo International Airport has reared its head again.

The issue was recently reported in The Economist after one correspondent reported having had their luggage rifled through and their bag cut open.

Senior manager of corporate affairs at OR Tambo, Leigh Gunkel-Keuler, said they were aware of the problem, but added that the rate of baggage pilferage had decreased since 2013. According to OR Tambo, in May 2013 the number of reports touched 0,16 cases per 1 000 bags handled, while in 2016 the figure ranged from 0,04 to 0,09 cases per 1 000. The international benchmark is four reports of pilfering per 1 000 bags handled.  

However, these figures differ substantially from those reported by Radio 702 in 2015. According to 702, then national spokesperson of Acsa, Colin Naidoo, said the international benchmark was higher, at 4,5 bags per 1 000. In the article, 702 reported that the number of pilfered bags at OR Tambo in 2013 was 18,6 per 1 000, and in 2014 that it was 9,81 per 1 000.

In 2012, five Airport Company South Africa employees were fired for pilfering and SAA introduced a baggage wrapping service in 2014 to try and prevent further incidents.

OR Tambo is in the process of consolidating the baggage pilferage stats for 2017 and hopes to make them available by the end of the month.

Leigh added: “Each airline contracts its own baggage handlers, who are subject to background checks and monitoring. Airports Company South Africa works in partnership with airlines to ensure that the baggage handling process is secure and constantly monitored.” 

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