Johannesburg, Bollywood actor Suniel Shetty has claimed that costumes for a film he is currently shooting in Durban were stolen and hinted that it could be an organised crime in connivance with airport luggage handlers — an allegation that has perturbed the Airports Company of South Africa (ACSA).
Shetty told the Sunday Times Extra that although it was the second time he had been robbed in South Africa, he remained unruffled and would return because he loved the country so much.
But he also told the weekly: “I think this happens because (airport luggage handlers) can see what’s in the luggage. The locks, I believe were clipped open within 10 minutes, which means it is organised.”
This statement, especially the insinuation of organised crime, has upset airport authorities, who have launched concerted efforts to wipe out incidents of luggage being tampered with ahead of the expected influx of tourists for the FIFA World Cup to be hosted across South Africa next year.
ACSA staff said the Bollywood star would have to substantiate his allegation, especially since he should have reported it to the airline and police at the airport.
“If he had reported it to the airline, they would have already been asking questions,” ACSA spokesman Colin Naidoo told the weekly, adding that luggage was scanned by an automatic machine and was not seen by people before moving through a conveyor belt.
Shetty also claimed that he had been robbed of $60,000 during a visit to Durban about 12 years ago, but did not give more details.
The actor, however, added that the incidents would not stop him coming back to South Africa as he had fallen in love with the country since he first came here.
“This probably happens to tourists anywhere and everywhere in the world. We learn to live with it now, because your love for (South Africa) is more than what you feel for what you lost.”
With his costumes, cameras and belts stolen, Shetty had to do some hurried shopping in Durban with the designer for the film “No Problem” that he is shooting in the city with Sanjay Dutt, Akshaye Khanna, Anil Kapoor and Paresh Rawal. Sushmita Sen has already left after shooting her scenes for the film.
Shetty said he also planned to attend the FIFA World Cup next year with his son and nephews.