Angry mom tracks down men after her son's valuables are stolen at airport

East London's King Phalo Airport.
East London's King Phalo Airport.
Image: Invest Buffalo City via Twitter

An East London mother is up in arms after the bag of her teenage son was tampered with and valuables stolen at the King Phalo Airport — allegedly by an employee. 

Tembisa Bester said when she dropped her son off for an afternoon flight to Durban, she never thought he would land in Durban with no money, wallet, bank and medical aid card, birth certificate and portable Bluetooth speaker. 

Airports Company of SA spokesperson Adele Nkomo said: “We are consulting with the relevant people involved in the matter and comment will be sent after communications protocols are followed.” 

King Phalo’s manager Nicola Smith said: “This incident is being taken seriously and being investigated.” 

Bester said upon her son’s arrival in Durban, en route to boarding school in Pietermaritzburg, a sister called to say his stuff was gone. 

Bester said: “As soon as I got off that call I went to the airport to lodge a complaint. As I was driving in I noticed two men walking out of the airport towards the garage on the opposite side of the road — one man had a speaker clipped to his waist which looked like the one stolen from my son’s bag.” 

Bester said she raced to find a security guard. 

“The guard said the men did work at the airport. After hearing that I drove my car across the road to confront them. I demanded to know where he had got the speaker from and he said he got it from a colleague inside the airport. I asked who that colleague was and he told me,” Bester said. 

The name of this employee is known to the Dispatch. 

“I told them to call the colleague who had given them the speaker. When they called him I confronted him over the phone to ask why he had taken my son’s belongings. He told the other man to give me the money on condition I didn’t report the matter,” Bester said. 

She said after a back and forth argument the men gave her R150 of the R500 which had been stolen. 

“I then drove to the airport to lodge a complaint. As I was about to get out of the car a man approached my car. It was the man I spoke to on the phone. I told him I was reporting the matter and that is when he apologised and said he wouldn’t do it again.” 

The Dispatch is in possession of a voice recording the conversation between the man and Bester. 

“This has caused much inconvenience considering that I paid just over R1,700 for the flight ticket. I have to redo my son’s medical and bank cards and birth certificate. I was told I would not be reimbursed for the items.” 

By Monday afternoon Bester had opened a case at the Fleet Street police station and was waiting for a case number.  

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