Somali men racially profiled on flight in South Africa

2 min read

According to police, a Somali man allegedly threatened to blow up the plane headed for Cape Town.

Passengers were alarmed on board the Lift Airline flight from Johannesburg on Friday night after a suspect was wrongfully accused of sending text messages indicating he’s ready to detonate a bomb.

When they heard that there may have been a bomb on the aircraft, a 31-year-old Johannesburg mom said they fell into a panic mood.

“The woman sitting next to him saw him send a text about the plane ready to take off and that he was ready to do the explosion,” the shaken woman tells local media.

“She went to one of the air hostesses and I just saw him shaking. The next thing the police and sniffer dogs were being called in and the plane was evacuated. We saw them taking four Somali men away.”

A video of the drama, which was recorded by one of the passengers, has been circulated on social media.

National police spokesperson, Brigadier Vish Naidoo, confirms the arrest but says three of the men were released.

“It happened on a flight from Johannesburg to Cape Town. One of the passengers saw a text message where the word explosion was used and the cabin crew was informed,” says Naidoo.

“The police attended the scene and it was established that three of the men did not have anything to do with the message.

“A search was conducted and no explosives were found. The suspect gave an explanation which we cannot divulge, but he was charged under the Civil Aviation Act and the 34-year-old man will appear in the Kempton Park Magistrate’s Court today.”

Lift CEO and Co-Founder, Jonathan Ayache, confirms there was a false bomb threat.

“As soon as we were informed, we implemented our emergency response plan and asked all passengers to disembark the plane. In cases like this, safety of our crew and passengers is our number one priority and we take all necessary precautions,” says Ayache.

“As soon as SAPS arrived on the scene, they performed an initial sweep of the aircraft and nothing was found.

“The bomb squad was also called out and performed a second full sweep with a K9 unit and again, nothing was found.

“As an extra safety precaution and to minimise further delays, passengers were transferred to an alternate aircraft to complete their journey,” he says.

Are you part of the three racially profiled men released and who were illegally detained?

Or do you know the men?

Was you on board the flight?

Tell us your story.

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