British Airways pilot kidnapped, assaulted and robbed on South Africa stopover

Unnamed pilot made to hand over thousands of pounds to masked robbers during five-hour attack

British Airways planes at Heathrow Airport. Thursday October 7, 2021. PA
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A British Airways pilot on a stopover in South Africa was reportedly kidnapped, tortured and beaten by robbers who emptied his bank accounts.

The first officer was forced to hand over thousands of pounds and was left badly shaken by the incident.

The attack happened while the pilot was spending two days in Johannesburg with the rest of his crew and is the second serious assault on British Airways staff in the city in six months.

The five-hour attack began when the first officer left a secure private development where the crew were staying, to go to a nearby supermarket.

When he returned to the compound a woman asked if he could help load her shopping.

He was then approached by masked men who forced him into the back of the vehicle and drove him to a house where he was kept prisoner and assaulted as the gang tried to access his bank accounts.

“It’s staggering what happened to the pilot. It was like something out of the movies," a source told The Sun.

“He fell for the scam of agreeing to help a woman in need, and before he knew it was bundled in a vehicle and driven away.

“He then endured hours of torture and physical assaults. It only ended when he was left penniless. He is just happy to be alive.”

British Airways uniforms through the years - in pictures

According to the UK government's latest travel advice, South Africa has one of the highest murder rates in the world and “violent crime can take place anywhere, including in tourist destinations and transport hubs”.

According to official figures show there are about 75 murders each day in South Africa, compared with about two per day in England and Wales.

Due to the threat from crime, British Airways has imposed strict rules on crew staying in Johannesburg that includes them not leaving their secure compound.

A British Airways captain was stabbed in the leg after going for a run between flights in the city in July 2023.

The pilot had been staying at the same Melrose Arch compound, north of the city in the financial district, when he went for a run and was held up at gunpoint. During a struggle, the pilot was stabbed.

“We are supporting our colleague and the local authorities with their investigation," A BA spokesman said following the latest attack.

Updated: January 12, 2024, 6:32 AM