… enters runway using Mutharika’s gate
A man who is thought to be mentally ill spent the wee hours of Sunday in a plane at Kamuzu International Airport without being detected by security personnel, raising eyebrows into the security aspects of the airport.
A source at the airport said the man, identified as James Govati, 25, entered the runway through a gate used by President Peter Mutharika and other bigwigs.
Malawi24 understands that the man is yet to undergo a medical test but a source said the airline is believed to be “very concerned and this will cause concerns to many sectors.”
According to media reports, the man forcefully removed the emergency exit door of the plane, a Q400 Bombardier belonging to Malawian Airlines, to make his way into the plane at around 3am and was only detected several hours later by engineers who noticed that the plane’s door had been removed.
The gate is manned by police officers and the surrounding perimeter is fenced and somehow the man entered the perimeter without being detected.
Malawian Airlines spokesperson Ovihlela Bunya confirmed the development and added that the plane had no scheduled flight on Sunday morning.
“We are still investigating the matter. The engineers went to check why the door was open and realised it had been removed, upon reaching the plane they saw a man inside and the man started running away from them. He was at the back of the plane and started running towards the cockpit,” said Bunya.
According to Bunya, the incident is even more baffling considering that the emergency door cannot be opened from outside.
She said Malawi Airlines is waiting for more details from the investigations, suffice to say the airport has police and other security agents responsible for all security matters.
“Safety is our top most priority hence we are making every effort to establish how this person managed to get inside the plane. The airport has been thoroughly searched for any alien elements and nothing has been found. The Q400 had no scheduled operation for the day,” Bunya said.
Minister of Transport Francis Kasaila says he has briefed Mutharika on the incident and added that government was working on getting to the bottom of the incident.
“We have been informed but I am yet to get a full report on the incident. So far, we know there was an intruder who went through one gate got on board a Malawian Airline, I will give a detailed update later after speaking to the airport commandant and police,” said Kasaila.
However, KIA Police Public Relations Officer Sapulani Chitonde insisted that police officers apprehended the man before he entered the plane.
“He was intercepted by police officers who were patrolling nearby. No door was opened,” said Chitonde. “He was questioned and said he wanted to travel to South Africa for medical treatment.”