A group of eight passengers allegedly got off a Qatar Airways plane in Johannesburg OR Tambo International Airport on Wednesday and attempted to enter South Africa by sneaking through a series of tunnels which are part of a fire prevention system.
The eight men, four from Bangladesh and four from Pakistan did not have visas to enter South Africa and were instead meant to be transiting through South Africa to another country, News 24 reports.
After arriving on the Qatar Airways flight from Doha, the men should have stayed in an airside area of the airport and would not have ever officially entered South Africa if they got on their connecting flight as planned.
Instead, the men allegedly broke into a tunnel system via a fire prevention system. South Africa’s Minister of Home Affairs Aaron Motsoaledi says a police officer noticed the men and followed them to the tunnel access point.
One of the men in the group was holding a mobile phone to his ear, suggesting that an insider was giving them directions and that the route had been used many times before.
Motsoaledi says his department has seen an uptick in illegal migrants coming via Qatar Airways flights into South Africa. Until recently, a popular route for illegal migrants was via Lesotho or Eswatini.
In 2018, South Africa dropped a requirement for transit visas which Motsoaledi believes is now being taken advantage of by people smugglers.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.