A Turkish Airlines crew was attacked by a band of armed robbers in Johannesburg, South Africa while returning from dinner.
The incident occurred on January 13th. After a dinner in central Johannesburg, the crew was on its way back to its hotel in a shared van. Suddenly, the assailants pulled in front of van, forcing it to stop in an intersection. Armed men burst out from the vehicle and forced their way onto the van. Valuables, including jewelry, wallets, and mobile phones, were taken under threat of death. The chief pilot was battered during the incident; it is not clear if he attempted to resist the assailants.
Elif Çomoğlu Ülgen, the Turkish Ambassador to South Africa, is fuming. She has demanded an investigation. But sadly, this sort of thing has become commonplace in Johannesburg, as the worsening economy has led many to take more desperate steps.
My wife and I spent several weeks in South Africa, including Johannesburg, in 2014. I wrote about the stark poverty and income inequality I viewed in Cape Town here, though we viewed it in J’Berg as well. It may be unfair to make broad generalizations about a country based upon news headlines and only a few weeks on the ground, but the rise in violent crime across South Africa is sobering. Perhaps Turkish should instruct their crews to remain inside hotels during layovers. Will Johannesburg become like Lagos and Mogadishu, two other cities Turkish serves? Let’s hope not. But what a startling wake-up call.
image: Anna Zvereva / Wikimedia Commons