Two suspects have been arrested after spoiling what was supposed to be a momentous occasion welcoming home the Springboks at Johannesburg’s OR Tambo International Airport on Tuesday night.
The Rugby World Cup champions touched down on SA soil on Tuesday after defeating England in Japan at the weekend.
Supporters flocked to the airport, a national key-point, to welcome their heroes, but so did criminals.
TimesLIVE video journalist Deepa Kesa, who went to the airport to capture the moment, was one of the victims.
Kesa had finished filming the first arrivals and made her way to the media room. “Once there, I was told that it was full, so I must wait at the side and get into the second press conference,” she said.
“I then sat on the floor and decided to start editing the footage that I already have. As I sat down, a gentleman sat next to me and put what looked like a gun in between us and asked me what I can give him.
“I pushed my camera bag towards him and told him that’s all I have. I then continued to sit on the floor for 10 minutes in shock, trying to process what just happened. . .
“Once I got to security, they had my bag and told me that someone was running away and dropped it. One zip was open, and my cellphone, charger, two camera battery chargers and a memory card was gone.
“When I went to open a case with the police at the airport, the female officer told me that I am about the 40th person who opened a case.”
Several other people had their cellphones, bags with house keys and other personal items stolen at the airport.
One person told TimesLIVE he briefly left his bag with a friend to take a few pictures. Upon his return, the bag was gone.
“I am distraught. I lost my bag with my passport, ID and even my car keys. Last night I had to sleep at a friend’s house.”
Police did not disclose how many cases were reported at the airport.
National police spokesperson Athlenda Mathe confirmed that two suspects had been arrested for theft.
“It is rather unfortunate that criminals exploited this event for their own gains but the SAPS will ensure that those responsible for any criminal activity in and around [the airport] will face the full brunt of the law.”