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Update on special task team

Johannesburg, 22 February 2009

Following the detention of South African Airways (SAA) crew members at Heathrow International Airport earlier this week, SAA formed a special task team including representatives from the airline, Airports Company SA (Acsa), customs and the South African Police Service (SAPS).

The purpose of the special task team was to review the additional measures put in place by SAA after the first incident in January as well as identify immediate additional measures aimed at curbing drug traffic.

The special task team has made the following resolutions:
- All luggage belonging to crew members will be physically searched;
- The number of sniffer dogs will be increased to assist with narcotics detection;
- Installation of drug detection devices;
- Installation of updated scanner technology with narcotic detection capability by end of March 2009; and
- Search both inbound and outbound aircraft to ensure no unauthorised goods are onboard aircraft. Improved co-ordination between SAPS & Customs Dog Units;

Chris Smyth, SAA’s acting CEO, thanked the task team for the work done so far and acknowledged that SAA cannot resolve these issues alone.

“SAA has neither the capability nor the mandate for broader policing and security matters and we have requested assistance via the task team. Taking the Government’s concerns and directives into account, ACSA will assume responsibility for security and processing of staff through the SAA crew centre. The changeover will take place on Monday, 23 February 2009,” he said. .

“Mr Smyth said other parties such as the SAA Pilots Association (SAAPA) had also made valuable suggestions about ways to improve security, and negotiations were being held with the relevant authorities. .

“Bongani Maseko, ACSA’s Operations Director, said ACSA will continue to work with SAA, the police and customs to ensure that the resolutions of the task team are implemented. “We wish to assure all parties concerned that every possible measure will be put in place over and above the prescribed international standards to reduce criminal activity at the crew centre,” he concluded. .

For further information, please contact:

Solomon Makgale, Acsa
Tel: (011) 723 1536
Cell: 082 781 8863

Robyn Chalmers, SAA
Tel: (011) 978 2729
Cell: 083 282 6761

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