World Cup watchSouth Africa lax attitude to airport security worries FIFA

Published 20 May 2010

South Africa promised FIFA that it would tighten security at airports ahead of the World Cup games which open in three weeks; investigative reporters proved that promise hollow when they managed easily to pass security checks on ten flights — out of the twenty they tried to board — in the country with steak knives, screwdrivers, razors, pairs of scissors, and even syringes in their luggage

South Africa's airport security fails tests // Source:

In South Africa, lawlessness is confined to the ground. Undercover reporters have exposed a gap in South African airport security ahead of the World Cup, managing to take a number of items on board without detection. ESPN Soccernet reports that reporters from Eyewitness News managed to pass security checks on ten flights in the country, with steak knives, screwdrivers, razors, pairs of scissors, and even syringes in their luggage. “In more than half of the incidences, we managed to get on to flights with these illicit items,” senior reporter Mandy Weiner told Sky News.

An attempt to board a plane with fake explosives was foiled, but Weiner claimed that the airport staff did not fully understand what they had confiscated. “It was essentially just two bottles, one filled with salt and one filled with green liquid, but they were labeled as two products which if combined in that particular amount, could bring down an airplane,” she explained. “The bottles were confiscated but the security officials didn’t acknowledge that they were in any way explosive.”

Eyewitness News, which broadcasts on South African radio station Radio 702, said it would pass on its findings to FIFA in a bid to highlight the fact that the airlines think they are on top of the numerous security concerns ahead of the tournament.

(The organizations have) taken note of what we have done and say that while they are concerned that we managed to breach security like this, they are confident that Airports Company South Africa has done enough,” Weiner added. “They [the ACSA) are adamant that security at the airports is tight. They believe it is world class.”

As South African police in Johannesburg attempted to demonstrate their power with a display of fire engines and armored personnel carriers, the sting operation could prove a wake-up call to those in charge. “The general consensus among South Africans is that security is sufficiently tight at airports around the country,” she said. ”But I think that our investigation has shown that these security checkpoints may be far more porous than the public and officials care to admit.”