The audacious heist from a supposedly secure cargo area at OR Tambo International Airport this week points to a highly organised group of professional criminals. It netted the armed robbers millions in low denomination foreign notes headed for a clearing bank in London.
It is also clear from the timing of the operation that the complete hijacking could not have been achieved without insider knowledge: it took fewer than 30 minutes for the robbers to neutralise the guards, pinpoint their target, load 27 bags filled with cash into the getaway vehicles and disappear into the dusk of an
Even more worrying is that police uniforms and bogus police vehicles were used to get close to the objective and overpower the security and, one would logically surmise, the getaway. It had all the hallmarks of detailed military planning and split-second execution, in that safety precautions were either nonexistent or craftily overridden.
And although security has been hiked substantially over the past decade, there was a chillingly similar R100-million robbery at the airport in 2006, to provide a rough blueprint.
Whatever the facts eventually turn out to be, there will be a long round of internal and external investigations to follow.