There was drama at Johannesburg's OR Tambo International Airport when South African police and aviation officials ordered a Harare-bound aircraft off the runway and back to its parking bay to allow them to arrest a car thief suspected to be Zimbabwean who was on board.
An airport tractor had to be called to pull the aircraft back to the loading bay to extricate the suspect identified as Nicholas Marova Zvikomborero.
"At approximately 15:00 hours, two South African Police Service (SAPS) detectives alerted International Airport Aviation Safety officers of a vehicle theft suspect that was on a flight to Harare that needed to be stopped. The suspect has been sought since 2014 and had been put on the watch list. He's alleged to have rented a vehicle and never returned it.
"The Airport Aviation Safety officers managed to make contact with the airline, through the airport management centre. The aircraft was towed back to the parking bay after all necessary protocols were adhered to," SAPS said in a statement.
An Airport Aviation Safety officer together with SAPS detectives then boarded the aircraft and the suspect was subsequently arrested.
SAPS said: "This arrest comes after at least five other notable successes in the past few weeks, but more importantly the new revised intervention is proving to be equally effective proactively as it is reactively.
"The team tasked with this intervention, led by Major-General Dimakatso Ndaba, who was appointed SAPS commander at the airport less than a month ago, is showing great deter- mination."
According to SAPS, these successes were a result of the intensified cooperation between the South African Police Service, Ekurhuleni Metro, airport management of OR Tambo International Airport and other law enforcement agencies and government departments, which forms an integral part of the plan.
"Ensuring that there are no obstacles to cooperation among ourselves is a major element of our strategy, and this case shows that we are better able to respond to criminal threats.
"Criminals as well as potential criminals must know and feel the brunt of this new and improved intervention which is mandated with the safety and security of this national key point," SAPS said.