Airport attacks ‘critical’

THE POST / 12 OCTOBER 2017, 2:00PM / DOREEN PREMDEV

Durban – Police are convinced that the “follow home” airport attacks have dropped since July.
However, security companies say the situation is still critical.

Their clients are forking out R3000, and sometimes more, for armed security to escort them safely from OR Tambo International Airport to their destinations.

National police spokesman Brigadier Vish Naidoo said the number of “follow home” attacks have dropped since July 25 – from up to five incidents a week to nil.

This, he said, was until two weeks ago when 36 Dutch tourists were attacked and robbed by five armed men – one of them posing as a uniformed police officer.

The tourists were allegedly followed from the airport and forced to stop in Fourways, north of Johannesburg.

They were robbed of their personal items and luggage.

Allegations from security bosses and individuals involved in crime fighting initiatives say there is a syndicate operating at the airport – with some OR Tambo staff involved in tipping off criminals involved in the attacks. Naidoo said police could not rule out this possibility but it had not been conclusively proven.

“There are many theories and allegations have been made but no one has come forward with evidence to substantiate this,” said Naidoo.

“We have put into place a new revise strategy to deal with the attacks. One of the many strategies we have implemented to curb the problem, include a vetting process of staff employed at the airport.”

Naidoo said prior to July 25 the attacks were reaching unprecedented proportions.

He said this dropped after Minister of Police Fikile Mbalula intervened and a decision was taken for the police to further announce their presence.

Attacks

“We have established a close working relationship with private security companies, SA Tourism and guest house owners to find ways to combat and prevent these attacks. These criminals are after money, personal valuables and luggage.”

The general manager of Johannesburg-based Asar Security, Raees Shamar, said they offered private armed security escort to businesses and the general public from the airport for the last three years.

“We get about 20 calls a week for armed escort from the airport to a client’s home. The situation is clearly critical,” said Shamar.

“People pay from R3 000 for armed escort – there are three armed, trained and certified officers per car. Some request two cars as added precaution. The price fluctuates per car.”

He said his officers are alert and looked out for any suspicious activity and obstacles on the road.

Shamar added that he was convinced certain airport staff are involved in tipping off criminals.

“People coming back home with large sums of money or other valuables will have to declare this at customs and that is where they are being marked. There is no other way a criminal would know who to target unless they are getting inside information.”

Yaseen Theba , the director of Vision Tactical, an armed security company, said spotters working at the airport were a vital key to the “follow home” attacks.

He said to their existing clients, they offered free escort from the airport and charged a fee from R1000 to non-clients from the airport to Sandton.

This, he said, depends on the time of day, traffic and number of people travelling.

“While my officers don’t have the power to do what the police have, creating a presence at the airport and on the roads leading out of the airport serves as a strong deterrent to would-be criminals.

“We didn’t just offer this service because we saw a gap in the market and decided to capitalise on it. Our clients requested it due to the high number of attacks.”

Theba urged travellers to be discreet with large sums of money, jewellery and electronic equipment and to be alert.

Sizwe Sampson, the client liaison officer for Beagle Watch in Fairlands, said “follow home” attacks also happened to people who visit public places like the mall.

“We get about 100 calls a month for this service. It’s an alarming reality but people do get followed home from public areas.”

Crime activist Yusuf Abramjee said: “These robberies are going to kill SA tourism.

The negative reports are going across the world. If police are not able to protect people, the alternative would be to get private security. I suspect police involvement in some of these attacks, as in the case with the Dutch tourists. A policeman in uniform stopped the tourists – he is either a rogue or fake cop”

Naidoo said it had not been confirmed if the person involved was a policeman.

POST

Hope springs from tragedy as new support group is formed

A convoy of 150 cars, moving from Huddle Park, Linksfield, headed to the arena where the memorial service was held.

October 9, 2018 – Joburg East Express

The deaths of the three firefighters Simphiwe Moropana (28), Mduduzi Ndlovu (40) and Khathutshelo Muedi (37) brought the people of Joburg together in mourning.

Hundreds of representatives from private security companies, CPFs, neighbourhood watch groups, emergency medical providers and law enforcement agencies gathered at Ellis Park Arena to honour the fallen heroes.

A convoy of 150 cars, moving from Huddle Park, Linksfield, headed to the arena where the memorial service was held.

George Moraitis from Guardians Security, who is also part of the organising team, said the service was a proper way of paying tribute and giving support to the families.

“Last week’s fire was tragic and heartbreaking. Seeing so many individuals from the security industry come together gave us strength, the type of strength we wish to give to the families and colleagues of Joburg Fire,” said Moraitis.

The deaths of the three firefighters resulted in the establishment of a group called Fallen Heroes.

The group offers support to law enforcement and emergency services in times of tragedy.

An emblem was created to honour the firefighters and will be used officially in the future to honour those who die in the line of duty.

The three golden stars represent the fallen firefighters, the wings mean working together and the heart symbolises love.

The organisers of Fallen Heroes are Mohammed Modan, George Moraitis, Shaheen Theba and Yaseen Theba.

Yaseen Theba from Vision Tactical said it was wonderful to see how the community supports one another in such a difficult period.

“It’s encouraging to know that, no matter which company or department we represent in our daily life, we can stand united in times of crises and tragedy. These firefighters died serving, and for that they are heroes,” said Theba.

Mohammed Modan from Tau Protection Services said they plan to continue to keep the idea of Fallen Heroes group alive.

“We will continue to engage with the City of Joburg and the departments to work towards a safer Joburg.

“It’s important that the family and colleagues get sustainable support through the structures of the departments. We will plan to continue our support when a tragedy strikes. We don’t need donations. It is all about our presence and to offer support and time.

“The different departments will contribute what they have,” said Modan.

As the families and colleagues left the arena to the Bank of Lisbon building in the Johannesburg CBD for the wreath-laying ceremony, members of the convoy created a guard of honour to salute the #FallenHeroes.

“We salute the fallen heroes. Their sacrifice and dedication will not be forgotten.

“Our sincere and heartfelt condolences to the families, friends and colleagues,” said Theba.

House break-ins a major headache for Joburgers

10 September 2017 – 14:45BY BAFANA NZIMANDE

dangerous burglar sneaking into the house with a knife in his hand

When Mandisa Manzini bought a house in Protea she was relieved that she would finally have a safe place to call home‚ but little did she know the headache that comes with owning property in Johannesburg.

The mother of two is a victim of two house robberies. The first incident occurred last April and thieves took electronic appliances worth more than R24‚000 while she was locked in her bedroom with her children‚ aged two and five years.

While intruders cleared her house‚ Manzini screamed and dialled the police who came hours after the criminals had left the area. Nobody was harmed during the incident but Manzini said it has traumatised her.

“I struggle to sleep at night since the incident. We live in fear because we don’t know when we might be robbed again. I have even considered moving out of this area because of the bad experience we have had‚” said Manzini.

Two other houses located along Manzini’s street suffered the same fate this June. Thembinkosi Mkhize‚ who lives next to Manzini‚ lost goods worth R30‚000. The experience has forced him to install an alarm system‚ build a boundary wall and beef-up security features in his house.

Based on the 2017 State of Urban Safety Report‚ Manzini and Mkhize’s frustration is shared by many in Johannesburg. The report said Johannesburg has the highest number of residential robberies‚ a trend that forces many to spend more on security.

Vision Tactical co-founder Yaseen Theba said the company is getting more clients from different Johannesburg suburbs and the figures keep on increasing as the December holiday season approaches.

“Crime is a national problem and those that live in lavish areas are more at risk because criminals want a piece of what they have. Criminals continuously improve their methods‚ that is why as security companies and law enforcement agencies we must be pro-active in our conduct‚” said Theba.

Without revealing too much detail‚ Yaseen said the company has deployed more guards in certain areas and has acquired technological gadgets to help combat crime. With armed guards on the ground and CCTV cameras‚ they also rely on a cellphone app that triggers quick response.

Head of client relations at insurance company OUTsurance Natasha Kawulesar said they have not observed an increase in the take up of insurance in Johannesburg but high crime statistics have an impact on the insurance industry.

Apart from increasing claims volume‚ high crime levels will see clients paying more on their premiums.

“Crime levels in an area affect the premiums in an area. Bear in mind this is based on statistics such as theft‚ fire‚ floods and other factors. One may deem an area safe but statistics may prove different‚” said Kawulesar.

Vision Tactical expands its security services to include airport escorts

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Ebrahim Gangat chats to Yaseen Theba, director of Vision Tactical, a security company that provides private security to homes and businesses in Houghton, Killarney, Norwood and other surburbs in Northren Jo’burg.

Providing safe return from airport

The Star Page 5 – 23rd May 2017

THE RISE in crimes committed around OR Tambo International Airport, including people being followed home from the airport and robbed, has spawned an interesting and lucrative business.

Vision Tactical is a security company that began in October 2014, which provides private security to homes and businesses in Houghton, Killarney, Norwood and other suburbs in northern Joburg.

Vision Tactical Owner: Yaseen Theba , speaks about the burgeoning crime of being followed back home from the airport.

Recently, the company expanded its security services to include airport escorts, because according to the company’s owner, Yaseen Theba, clients started becoming nervous about coming back from the airport and asked for vehicles to be stationed on driveways outside their homes for safety purposes.

“Then certain people felt nervous about landing at night or early mornings and asked if we could provide a guard inside the car that was going to pick them up.

“But we prefer using our own vehicles to follow our clients, because in the event something happens, we have our rifles and guns in the car.

“If it’s a family pick-up, we don’t like to have firearms in the vehicle when there are children. We prefer following a vehicle and ensuring that a family get home safely,” Theba explained.

Last Monday, a man was shot dead just outside OR Tambo International Airport’s drop-off area, in what was believed to have been a botched hijacking.

HAPPY ABOUT THE SERVICE: Dharmisha Makan speaks about her experience being followed back home from the airport.  Picture: Nhlanhla Phillips

It was this report that convinced Dharmisha Makan to use the escort service for the first time when she and a friend came back from India last week.

“As two women travelling on our own, we definitely felt safe just to know that we’re being followed by a security company that we are familiar with, as they do the guarding at our complex.

“They followed both of us to our homes and we felt safe. So did our family members, who knew we were going to make it home safe,” Makan enthused, adding that she would “definitely” use the service again.

Theba added that he was aware the police were trying to curb the crime of airport followings by doing stop and searches of cars leaving the airport.

“Then certain people felt nervous about landing at night or early mornings and asked if we could provide a guard inside the car that was going to pick them up.

“But we prefer using our own vehicles to follow our clients, because in the event something happens, we have our rifles and guns in the car.

“If it’s a family pick-up, we don’t like to have firearms in the vehicle when there are children. We prefer following a vehicle and ensuring that a family get home safely,” Theba explained.

Last Monday, a man was shot dead just outside OR Tambo International Airport’s drop-off area, in what was believed to have been a botched hijacking.

It was this report that convinced Dharmisha Makan to use the escort service for the first time when she and a friend came back from India last week.

“As two women travelling on our own, we definitely felt safe just to know that we’re being followed by a security company that we are familiar with, as they do the guarding at our complex.

“They followed both of us to our homes and we felt safe. So did our family members, who knew we were going to make it home safe,” Makan enthused, adding that she would “definitely” use the service again.

ON ALERT: A panic button was activated while The Star was patrolling with Vision Tactical in Houghton. It took the response unit roughly three minutes to react, but it turned out to be a false alarm.   Picture: Nhlanhla Phillips

Theba added that he was aware the police were trying to curb the crime of airport followings by doing stop and searches of cars leaving the airport.

But he said some of his clients were apprehensive about the police because of reports that officers – or people disguised as law enforcement personnel – were also part of criminal activity around the airport.

This has to do with the brazen airport heist in March, where more than R20 million was stolen by robbers who, it is believed, included police officers and airport security personnel.

“There are times when people get nervous about being questioned by police.

“People are nervous about sharing information with police at the airport because they are living in fear due to the reports about officers being involved in some of these crimes,” Theba said.

“So, if they know that they are dealing with a security company that they know and trust, they feel a lot more comfortable to talk to the police. That’s what we are trying to do – making people feel a lot safer.”

The company, Theba said, employed only highly skilled personnel, such as Boloka “Bravo 7” Diale.

He is a commander within Vision Tactical, and told The Star he was trained in special weapons and tactics, or Swat, and previously worked for the US Embassy and a cash-in-transit company.

Asked what the scariest part of the job was, Diale asserted: “For me, there is no scary part, because I am used to it. Maybe if I was starting out it would be scary, but right now it’s like having bread with tea.”

Chocolate thieves nabbed

img-20160622-wa003_32698Two men will appear in court after a truck was hijacked in Kempton Park on 22 June.

According to Yaseen Theba of Vision Tactical Armed Response, the Nestle truck was reported stolen by a tracking company on the morning of 22 June and its signal was picked up in the Killarney, Yeoville and Houghton areas.

Hours later, the missing truck was recovered on the corner of 2nd Avenue and 3rd Street in Killarney. Theba said the contents of the truck had been offloaded and only some wrappings of the stolen chocolates remained in the truck.

“Our guys were able to locate the truck in less than 30 seconds of the call because of high density in those areas,” said Theba.

In a statement, Metro police’s Chief Superintendent Wayne Minnaar confirmed the arrest of two suspects.

Minnaar said, “Metro police officers discovered chocolates at a house in Lenasia Ext 9 on 25 June. These chocolates were suspected to have been removed from the Nestle truck found abandoned in Killarney on Thursday.

“More information led officers to a house in Kew where some more chocolates were found, as well as a machine which was used to change the expiry date on chocolates and on Red Bull cans.”

Two suspects have been charged with theft and hijacking.

“The men will likely appear in court on 27 June for the theft of chocolates worth thousands of rands,” said Minnaar.”

The one suspect will appear in Lenasia Magistrates’ Court and the other in Wynberg Magistrates’ Court.

White Merc gang on the prowl

 / 4 February 2015, 1:10pm
1632804275Johannesburg – A gang using a white Mercedes-Benz have been targeting the residents of Houghton over the past two months.

The gang of five men have been involved in numerous armed robberies and hijackings in the upmarket suburb.

Yaseen Theba, from Vision Tactical, said they had been getting reports about incidents involving the white Mercedes since the beginning of December and, on Sunday, the security company spotted the car and gave chase.

But they lost sight of it as it disappeared on Louis Botha Avenue near Alexandra. The registration number of the Mercedes is unknown.

Theba said there had been 12 sightings of the car in Houghton since December. It has a sunroof, tinted windows and LED lights on the bumper.
The gang of five wear masks and gloves. Their modus operandi is to lift up electronic gates to gain access to properties.

About three weeks ago, a man driving a white Mercedes ML stopped at an Engen service station to draw money. Shortly afterwards, on the corner of Glenhove Road and Fifth Street, he was held up. Cash and his watch were taken and the men drove off in his car, Theba said.

The car was recovered a few blocks away, and witnesses saw the gang get into a white Mercedes that was waiting for them, and drive off.

“We suspect they noticed his watch at the petrol station,” Theba added.

Last Thursday morning, the gangsters entered the house of a businessman and held him and two assistants at gunpoint. They made off with valuables and a light-metallic grey Audi Q5.

Theba said the men are well dressed, and on a few occasions, they have been seen driving around the suburb with three men and a woman in the car.

They were stopped once or twice by various security companies in the neighbourhood. The officers were told that the men were brothers and were just dropping their sister off.

“We have noticed that they aren’t stealing cellphones or iPads or any electronics that can be traced.

“They are taking cash, jewellery and watches,” Theba pointed out.

Crime Line has appealed to anyone with information that could lead to the arrest of the robbers to SMS 32211 or call Crime Stop on 08600 10111.

If the car is spotted, call 10111.

Crime Line’s Yusuf Abramjee said indications were that the robbers were well organised.