A teenage boy was barred from passing the arrival point at O.R. Thambo Airport because his favourite T-shirt caused consternation. The black shirt, available from Australia Zoo’s website, has a head of a green snake visible in front and the tail behind.
Stevie Lucas was with his family at the airport at 8 am on Tuesday and on his way to George to visit his grandparents. At the security gate, staff members said he should take off his shirt and put on another shirt instead.
According to reports from Network 24, family spokeswoman Kobus Rudolph said during inquiries that the security officials apparently said on O.R. Thambo said that no one was allowed to take toys or rubber snakes on the flight.
“With the family’s luggage already booked in, his mother, Marga, said he had to take off the T-shirt so that the other side was pointing outwards. She wanted to avoid a confrontation with the security officers, ”says Rudolph.
The Airports Company of South Africa (Acsa) responded to an email sent by the family after the incident. It reads: “Thank you for bringing this to our attention. Note that we asked for a more extensive reason for the clothing rules and restrictions. We will give you feedback as soon as we receive it. ”
Stevie is from Wellington, New Zealand. He and his family have been on holiday since Sunday in Pretoria. His parents, Steve and Marga, met in England and settled in Wellington. Marga was originally from Ficksburg in the Free State.
Stevie inherited his love for snakes with his father. When they visit South Africa, they often go to pet stores in search of reptiles, spiders, bugs and other animals.
This is Stevie’s third visit to South Africa.
Rudolph says Stevie has a good sense of humour. When he landed at his family’s home in Pretoria on Sunday, he asked his mother for a cold drink in a wine glass, after which he sounded a glass and said: “A toast to Africa”.
Betty Maloka, spokeswoman for O.R. Tambo Airport, said the incident was at the B terminal.
She confirmed circuit television footage showing Stevie taking off his T-shirt and then turning upside down.
“According to the report of the security officer on duty, she told the boy’s mother snake toys and prints were inadmissible, but that she also wanted to ask the senior supervisor’s opinion. Meanwhile, the boy’s mother said he would wear it outside to avoid further delays, ”says Maloka.
“The rules for prohibited items are set by the standards of the International Civil Aviation Organization. Note that the security officers have the right to determine if an object has the potential to harm fellow passengers and crew members by causing certain objects or prints to be anxious, ”says Maloka.