Off Duty SAA Steward gets loaded enroute


Well-known member
Jan 11, 2002
Total Time
There are several amusing quotes in this column. Enjoy.

By Sheena Adams

The crew drew down the shutters, darkening the plane's cabin, and he saw his chance.

Swiftly and silently, a passenger stole down the aisle to the galley at the back of the plane and helped himself to miniature bottles of gin, brandy and vodka, and got horribly drunk.

Belligerent and rude, he tore down the aisles, swearing and taking swipes at passengers travelling on the South African Airways flight between Bangkok and Johannesburg, biting some on their arms and hands.

After terrifying passengers for more than 30 minutes and forcing himself on a Chinese woman and kissing her, the man, Dumisani Shabangu, 25, was identified as an off-duty SAA air steward by the astounded crew.

Five strapping men, including a policeman, the first officer and the pilot, were needed to restrain him.

One angry passenger said afterwards: "We handcuffed his hands behind his back but he was going berserk, lashing out with his legs.

"We put him face down in the galley, but a few minutes later he was up again, running down the aisle like a madman, using foul language."

The passenger, who did not want to be identified, said the crew brought another pair of handcuffs which were used on Shabangu's ankles.

"We used seatbelts and tied him up like a mummy. He even managed to break one of the toilet doors."

The passenger said Shabangu had also caused alarm when he lunged at one of the aircraft's doors and tried to open it.

"I am a pilot so I knew that it wouldn't open at 32 000 feet, but he caused lots of concern among the other passengers.

"He was a bad, aggressive drunk, but not so drunk that he was useless.

"I just wanted to reach out and smash his lips against his teeth," said the passenger, who was travelling with his wife and two children.

Shabangu was arrested after the plane touched down at Johannesburg International Airport on Sunday evening and he has been suspended from his job pending an investigation.

SAA spokesperson Rich Mkhondo said Shabangu, who joined SAA in 1999, had contravened the Civil Aviation Act by threatening the safety of SAA passengers.

"He has also contravened his own employment regulations, so he will face disciplinary action. He seemed to know where the liquor was because he was one of us," Mkhondo added.

"It's very serious. Passengers were panicked and crying - it must have been terrible."

The passenger said Shabangu had tried to introduce himself and make friends.

"He was spitting all over the place, telling me he was from Soweto and asking me where I lived.

"I was getting really hacked off at this stage, and when he left and I heard a commotion at the other end of the plane, I went over and found that a couple of blokes had him on the floor.

"That's when one of the crew brought the handcuffs."

The passenger said Shabangu received "quite a hammering because a couple of guys climbed into him", and that it was a scary ordeal.

He praised SAA for their quick response.

"The crew were fantastic and they did everything in their power to bring the situation under control, because negotiation was certainly out of the question, but the means at their disposal were inadequate.

"If you've got an Arnold Schwarzenegger on the plane and your first officer, who is responsible for security, is a 1,6-metre, 50kg man, he isn't going to be able to handle a berserk madman running from one end of the plane to another for 30 minutes."

Mkhondo said SAA was looking into rationing the provision of alcohol on flights but that a total ban on alcohol was unlikely.

Police Superintendent Eugene Opperman said Shabangu appeared in the Kempton Park magistrate's court on Monday and was remanded.

"If found guilty, he could very well be sent to jail for a long period," Opperman said.


Dec 1, 2001
Total Time
ok if I read this right, then both the FO and Captain where restraining the who was flying the airplane? I didn't see what type of airplane it was, was there an FE?


Of The Kremlin
Nov 25, 2001
Total Time
On SAA, between BKK and Jo'burg it's a 747, with a relief crew onboard.