United States issues travel warning for South Africa

The U.S. State Department has advised U.S. citizens to exercise caution when arranging ground transportation from OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg to hotels, guest houses, and residences.

Numerous U.S. citizens and other travelers have been robbed at gun point while traveling from OR Tambo International Airport to their place of lodging in what are known as “follow home” robberies.

In some instances, U.S. citizens have been injured or shot at during these robberies.

“U.S. citizens should avoid night time arrival flights to OR Tambo International Airport. No form of transportation from the airport is considered completely secure and risk-free.

Travellers should exercise caution at all times when departing the airport.

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Travellers should also avoid changing money or utilizing ATMs at the airport, and avoid displaying expensive jewelry, watches, or luggage while traveling,” said the US Department of State.

At a media briefing held on Friday, 21 July, South African Minister of Police, Fikile Mbalula announced wide-ranging steps to be undertaken by the South African Police Service (SAPS), in collaboration with ACSA and various law enforcement agencies including the Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Police Department (EMPD) to address the recent spate of criminal incidents in and around the airport.

These measures are part of the SAPS “integrated multi-disciplinary tactical response plan” and amongst others include:

  • The appointment of a senior police official to head up the SAPS presence at the airport;
  • The centralization of the airport security control room;
  • The introduction of a vetting system for all personnel working at the airport;
  • The rotation of SAPS personnel and allocation of additional police resources;
  • The allocation of additional EMPD police officers to patrol roads leading up to and coming out of ORTIA;
  • The possibility on setting up an ‘airport court’ to deal with aviation-related security offences,
  • The installation of additional CCTV cameras at strategic points around the airport.

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