This is an account of a passenger who was also a victim.
I would really like to remain anonymous as this case is still under investigation.
On 11th March I was flying from Lagos to O. R. Tambo International Airport on South African Airways flight SA 061, it was an evening flight and usually everyone just sleeps throughout.
I saw one of South African Airline (SAA) crew members taking passengers hand luggage and going to the back where the crew seats, at first I thought it was his luggage because I was seated 3 rows from the back but this went on from one overhead compartment to another. I thought of confronting him but I got scared and I watched this horror happening throughout the flight.
At some point I looked back and saw him standing by the curtain, I think he could see I was seeing what he was doing, I then covered myself with the blanket and he just carried on. I looked back to see where he was and he was right behind me just standing there by the aisle and I just closed my eyes and pretended to be sleeping.
When the captain announced that we will be landing in 25 minutes, I told the lady seating on the opposite aisle seat to check her stuff as her back pack was also taken to the back by the crew member.
As I was talking to her, the lady on the same row but on the other side of the aisle took her bag from the top. I’m not sure what she was looking for but when she checked she discovered she was missing $500.
I told her I saw one of the crew taking bags to the back and returning them after few minutes, she went to the back to try and speak to the crew members but she was told to sit down as we were about to land.
After landing when everyone disembarked the flight, I stayed behind to tell the head of crew what I saw. He was very aggressive and told me those were serious allegations and there will be serious consequences.
I told them the tall guy was taking luggage to the back, he said they have two tall guys on the flight, one was working at the back and the other in front, they asked me to identify the guy but it was dark during the flight and I was confused and didn’t know which one it was as they were the same height and frame. When I searched my bag as well there was $200 missing, we asked to search the crew because the lady who lost $500.00 got her money from the bank and can check if it was the same sequence.
The head of crew told us he is not allowed to do that and that we need a search warrant, he got one of the customer relation ladies to go with us to the police station but meanwhile the rest of the crew went home which made it difficult to search them and get to the bottom of this matter. The customer relations lady said she will meet us after we have cleared customs, we waited for about 45 minutes and she was nowhere to be found; we then decided to go to the police to open a case.
Whilst we were still waiting at the police station another passenger who was seating behind me came to say he is also missing $200.00 and he only realized this when he tried to exchange his dollars at the bank. We spoke to the police they said a warrant takes long they need to go to court and request it, the police officer also said SAA knows there are police on the ground and they should have called the police and have the crew searched but we didn’t know better.
Anyways, we opened the case and it is still under investigation, I have received a call from a detective that is working on my case and also from SAA security control.
I just want travellers to keep their personal belongings on them, even if the crew insists you put your luggage in the overhead compartment, take out your money and your cell phones and keep them in your pocket or your hands where they will be close to you.