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Pilferage at OR Tambo: Excerpt from 89 Bags and Counting by Steve Chart

89 Bags and CountingIn 2007 Steve Chart was tasked with consulting the Airports Company South Africa (ACSA) on how to reduce baggage pilferage at OR Tambo International Airport. His book 89 Bags and Counting: My Long Haul to OR Tambo International and the Mystery of the Pilfered Baggage details the extent of the problem, which was far worse than initially thought, with corruption and poor management playing a part.

Aerodrome has shared an excerpt from the book, in which Chart describes the unenthusiastic reception he got from OR Tambo’s general manager Chris Hlekane and explains some of the difficulties of stopping pilferage at the airport:

Many years ago, I was tuned into a London radio station. The presenter, whose specialty was goading and irritating his listeners, said two things I have never forgotten, simply because they are true: “Figures lie and liars figure” and “Never believe a rumour unless it is officially denied”.
Bongani had suggested that I have regular meetings with Chris Hlekane, OR Tambo’s general manager, presumably to keep him up to speed on progress. I assumed that Chris would provide his own input and treat the pilferage problem as a priority. After all, success or failure could affect his future employment.

We had met only once before at my presentation where I formed the opinion that he was not especially interested in what I had to say. Our second meeting in his office about two weeks after I started my assignment at the airport confirmed my initial thoughts.

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