The 22 things most frequently confiscated at OR Tambo – including golf clubs, ‘ninja stars’ and balloons

OR Tambo International Airport is anticipating 4 million passengers to pass through its doors over the holiday season.

This is according to the airport’s general manager, Bongiwe Pityi-Vokwana, who said that staff are fully prepared for the busiest time of the year.

“About 38,000 people are employed in and around the airport. Of these only about 1,400 are directly employed by us. We are fortunate that all our stakeholders appreciate that we work in an ecosystem where running an efficient airport relies on continuous collaboration among thousands of people,” she said.

“Airport operations are complex. We manage volumes, variability, variety and visibility in a live environment where precision and predictability of service is the basis of our existence.

“The regulatory demands to guarantee civil aviation safety require effective planning and synchronisation of thousands of activities every hour in the passenger’s journey from arrival on our landside, to when the aircraft takes off, lands and passengers safely leave the airport.”

Pityi-Vokwana added that a recent aircraft crash crisis simulation exercise – overseen by the South African Civil Aviation Authority as part of the airport licensing process – thoroughly tested the abilities of airlines, air traffic control, ground handlers, airport management, emergency services, law enforcement agencies, and other role players around Gauteng to respond quickly and effectively to any situation.

“In addition, airport staff and our safety and security partners have made tremendous strides over the past 18 months in intensifying our security operations and combating crime. We are especially appreciative of the efforts of the SAPS and the National Prosecuting Authority in securing convictions and lengthy sentences for some of those responsible for the armed robbery at the airport in March 2017,” she said.

Pityi-Vokwana said that most of the four million passengers will likely be first-time flyers and will include a substantial number of elderly people.

“The operational demands are therefore different at this time of year because of the different passenger mix,” she said.

“But I can assure travellers that it is all hands on deck for and we are ready. We look forward to a successful festive period and wish the best at this time for our passengers, staff and stakeholders.”

Below Pityi-Vokwana provided a number of tips for passengers travelling over the festive season.


  • Give yourself and your travelling companions enough time to check in and relax. There’s no reason to start off a holiday stressed out over catching flights;
  • Save or bookmark the online presence of your airline. This could be its web site or social media presence. Airlines will advise of any late changes to boarding gates, departure times and so on;
  • If you’re uncertain of anything or need help, the airport has several information kiosks as well as staff members in uniform able to respond quickly;
  • For last-minute purchases, most retail stores and food outlets are open from 6:00 to 22:00;
  • Make sure you’ve checked your airline’s terms and conditions. This applies especially to baggage restrictions;
  • Staff at check-in points have been instructed to enforce airline rules on hand luggage, so do ensure that you adhere to the weight and size restrictions;
  • Please remember that airlines warn passengers at the time of booking not to put any items of value in checked-in luggage;

Confiscated items

“In our experience, passengers are not aware of, or forget about, a range of items that are not permitted in hand luggage or on their person,” she said.

The items most frequently confiscated at OR Tambo International Airport are:

  1. Blades and razors;
  2. Corkscrews;
  3. Firearms and ammunition;
  4. Golf equipment;
  5. Knives, forks and scissors;
  6. Nail files and nail clippers;
  7. ‘Ninja stars’ (shuriken);
  8. Pocket knives;
  9. Safety pins and needles;
  10. Tools;
  11. Toy guns, replica guns;
  12. Ammunition;
  13. Bow and arrows;
  14. Sharp objects;
  15. Toy snakes;
  16. Toy spiders, replica spiders;
  17. Toy insects (bugs), replica insects;
  18. LAGS (Liquids, Aerosols and Gels) for international departures;
  19. Sporting equipment including soccer balls, rugby balls, volleyball balls, water polo balls and anything similar, inflated or deflated;
  20. Blunt objects;
  21. Inflated balloons;
  22. Objects deemed by security assessment to have the potential to cause harm or disturbance in the aircraft. For example, some credit card-sized key rings incorporate a blade, and some bracelets now incorporate multi-tool sets.

Read: Peak holiday traffic is starting earlier than usual in 2018 – here are the busiest routes

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The 22 things most frequently confiscated at OR Tambo – including golf clubs, ‘ninja stars’ and balloons