New initiative aims to cut Johannesburg Airport freight crime

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Representatives of the Association of European Airlines and the air cargo industry have met with the South African Government in order to establish a local partnership to cut freight crime at Johannesburg International Airport.

It follows a series of thefts and robberies from shipments at the South African capital hub and concern that the cost of protecting cargo at Johannesburg is becoming unreasonable.

One of the most recent high-profile events occurred in March this year when armed robbers attacked a South African Airways Boeing 747-400 passenger aircraft in daylight.

The initiative, known as the JNB Partnership Against Cargo Crime, will take the form of a working group backed by the Government and chaired by AEA representative Jon Clark.

“Our aim is to emulate the most recent success of ‘Operation Grafton’, a joint initiative involving law enforcement authorities and industry at London Heathrow Airport that has made significant inroads into the causes of cargo crime and brought a series of successful prosecutions for those people involved in theft,” says Clark.

Specialist security group Technology Asset Protection Association – which is participating alongside the AEA and logistics group Freight Forwarders International – claims that 113 incidents have been reported at Johannesburg since January last year.

This contrasts with just 36 for all other airports across the association’s Europe, Middle East and Africa coverage area. It says that the cargo crime levels in Johannesburg are “unacceptably high”, as are the costs of protection.

“Many companies still believe security controls remain inadequate [despite the crime rate],” says the association.

South African transport minister Jeff Radabe and senior civil aviation personnel are supporting the development of the partnership. Freight Forwarders International security committee chairman Robert Larson says: “We are encouraged by the high level and constructive response of the South African authorities to our intentions to fight back against this problem.”