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Airport Forces Boy to Change Anxiety-Provoking T-Shirt

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Ten-year-old Stevie Lucas was returning home to New Zealand from a family trip to South Africa to visit his grandparents when security officers at Johannesburg airport prevented him from boarding the plane because he was wearing a black t-shirt with a large, green snake graphic wrapped around it.

His parents, Steve and Marga Lucas, told local media that the officers told them that snake toys and printed clothing were not allowed and that it was their determination that the image could cause anxiety among fellow passengers.

To avoid inciting further drama, Stevie’s mom told him to simply turn the shirt inside-out to hide the snake, and he was thereafter allowed to board the flight.

According to Daily Mail Australia, the airport offered its justification for the officers’ actions, saying, “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.”

A little miffed, the Lucas family emailed the Airports Company of South Africa about the incident and received a reply, which read, “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, whose mother was born in South Africa, has traveled there three times from his native Wellington. During his trips, his dad often took him to pet stores that offered some exotic pets, and Stevie developed a keen interest in snakes, spiders and insects.

Despite his enthusiasm for the reptile he was representing, Stevie apparently wasn’t offended by the airport’s insistence that he change his shirt. Having a good sense of humor about the whole affair, he proposed a toast to South Africa upon arriving home with his family.

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