Zimbabwean Charged with Attempting to Hijack Plane

A 21-year-old Zimbabwean student appeared in a Cape Town court Monday on charges of attempting to hijack a South African Airways flight over the weekend.

The incident happened about half an hour after takeoff Saturday morning on flight SA322 from Cape Town to Johannesburg.

Tinashe Rioga, who was traveling in economy class, allegedly grabbed a flight attendant and held a syringe to her neck, demanding the flight be rerouted to the Mozambique capital, Maputo.

An off-duty pilot overpowered the man with the help of other passengers, and the plane landed safely in Cape Town, airline officials said at the time.

The motive for the attempted hijacking was not immediately clear. Passengers were shaken but otherwise unharmed after the ordeal, according to SAA spokeswoman Jacqui O'Sullivan.

Rioga, a third-year information technology student at the University of Cape Town, faces charges of contravening aviation regulations and assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm, the South African Press Association reported.

He was not asked to plead during his appearance Monday at the Bellville Magistrate's Court and was remanded in custody pending a bail hearing on June 26.


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