Acsa shares details about hoax bomb threat phone call at OR Tambo

Family at OR Tambo Airport. File Picture: Matthews Baloyi/ANA Archives

Family at OR Tambo Airport. File Picture: Matthews Baloyi/ANA Archives

Published Jun 1, 2023


Johannesburg – The Airports Company of South Africa has shared new details about how it received a hoax bomb threat phone call from an anonymous caller at around 5pm on Wednesday afternoon.

After receiving the phone call, Acsa took precautionary measures and evacuated the domestic arrivals section of the airport after the caller reported that the bomb would be found at the domestic arrivals hall.

Security officials including the police and other security personnel evacuated the domestic arrivals section of the airport and swept it between 5pm and 7.30pm, before eventually declaring the airport safe after deeming the call a hoax.

In the meantime, passengers who had just flown into OR Tambo were told to stay put in shuttles and the respective airlines they had flown in.

Frustrated, some of them took to Twitter.

— Vishen (@Vish_Mandree) May 31, 2023

— Ngwana Tlaki (@kholomokolo) May 31, 2023

Acsa released a statement just before 9pm on Wednesday night, confirming the bomb scare was a hoax.

Police sources had told IOL that the bomb threat was a hoax.

“Acsa would like to apologise for the inconvenience caused during the evacuation of passengers from the domestic arrivals terminal on the evening of the 31st of May 2023,” the statement read.

“Acsa received a notification by an anonymous caller of an alleged bomb threat at the domestic arrivals hall at approximately 5pm on Wednesday, 31 May 2023,” Acsa said.

“Upon learning of the potential security risk, we immediately initiated the evacuation of all passengers and staff from the area that was potentially at risk.”

Passengers who had just landed at the airport were stuck in planes and shuttles while the security personnel swept for bomb clues.

They found nothing.

“After a thorough investigation by the [SA Police Service] SAPS, it emerged that there was no reason for concern, normal service has since resumed, and the domestic arrivals hall was declared safe as at 7.25pm,” said an Acsa spokesperson.

Acsa said the bomb threat caused a disruption to normal operations and affected eight domestic flights.

Acsa said the safety of staff and passengers remained their primary concern.

“While the matter will continue to be investigated by SAPS to establish the origin and motive of the individuals behind this incident, we would like to assure all our passengers that our security personnel will remain on high alert and all necessary precautions will be taken to ensure the continued safety of our passengers.”