OR heist accused tipped 'robber'

A FORMER Airports Company South Africa official gave out details about loopholes in the OR Tambo International Airport security system to an alleged robber.

A FORMER Airports Company South Africa official gave out details about loopholes in the OR Tambo International Airport security system to an alleged robber.

Nazir Ismail, a former Acsa terminal contracts manager, pleaded guilty to stealing R100million from an aircraft parked at the airport in 2006.

He was given a suspended 20-year sentence and later turned state witness.

Yesterday he told the Johannesburg high court that one of the 10 accused, Christopher Billings, approached him about the robbery.

"He asked me whether I wanted to make a lots of money. When I asked how, he said he knew the people who had tried to rob the airport before. He said they were cash-in-transit robbers. I refused.

"He then asked if I could organise permits for him to have access to the airport because it would help him make a lot of money," Ismail said.

Ismail said he became friends with Billings about 10 years ago when his company, Universal Cleaning Services, was awarded a tender to clean the international departures section at the airport.

"We would meet occasionally at the gym and we shared our love for cars. In a relaxed manner, he would question me about airport security."

Ismail said months before the robbery Billings came to his house and asked if he had heard about a shooting at the airport

"I had not heard but I noticed Billings seemed excited and agitated about everything. He told me people had tried to rob a Swiss Aircraft," he said.

Yesterday morning Billings had filed another application asking the court to postpone Ismail and another co-accused Sean Soobramoney's testimony to February next year.

The application was also dismissed. Ismail will continue testifying today.

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