The South African Police Service (SAPS) has confirmed that an unattended bag found at OR Tambo International Airport was not part of the planned simulation exercises scheduled on Monday.
Police spokesperson Lieutenant-Colonel Katlego Mogale said the SAPS’s K9 and airport security K9 units were called to the scene.
“The dogs were deployed to ascertain whether there were explosives in the bag. They reacted negatively. The bag was then opened under controlled detonation by the SAPS explosives unit,” Mogale said.
“At this stage, investigations are underway to confirm the contents of the bag. A few hours ago, operations at the airport returned to normal.”
Mogale confirmed the incident was not part of the simulation scheduled in and around the area on Monday evening.
“Members of the public and or passengers are advised not to leave bags unattended as they pose a potential security risk. We maintain the high police visibility in and around the airport as per integrated multi-disciplinary plan that is implemented,” she said.
Earlier on Monday, police were unable to confirm whether there was a bomb in the unattended bag.
Mogale told News24 that the contents of the bag formed part of their investigation.
“The members of the K9 unit were called to the scene and the bag was handed over to the explosives unit,” Mogale said.
Mogale said further investigation would reveal what was in the bag.
Earlier, airport spokesperson Leigh Gunkel-Keuler said the Terminal A arrivals area had been evacuated as a precaution.
“The unattended bag was located near the international arrivals hall,” Gunkel-Keuler said.
An officer on the scene, who spoke to News24 on condition anonymity, said there was an improvised explosive device (IED), which was attended to.
Two airport shuttle drivers told News24 that one of their colleagues, who was coming in for work in the morning, had finished reading his newspaper when he noticed the bag.
“We called security to come check it out. The bag was just there unattended,” said one of the drivers.
“Security then called the bomb squad. A couple of minutes later there was a bang when they were busy dealing with whatever was in the bag.”
Gunkel-Keuler said all operations at the airport were back to normal, although some flights might be delayed.