South African Detained in Zimbabwe Over Email Threat That Disrupted President’s Travel

March 4, 2024
Screenshot 2024 03 04 at 172915 | Report Focus News
Screenshot 2024 03 04 at 172915

HARARE, Zimbabwe — In a development that has caught national attention, Zimbabwean authorities have confirmed the arrest of Cuan Reed Govender, a 26-year-old South African citizen, linked to an alarming email that led to widespread travel disruptions last Friday. The commotion caused by the threat included the abrupt cancellation of President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s scheduled flight to Victoria Falls.

George Charamba, spokesperson for President Mnangagwa, revealed that after thorough investigations, security services were able to trace the source of the disruptive email to Govender. While details remain scarce due to the sensitivity of the ongoing operations, Charamba expressed gratitude towards the Zimbabwean populace for their calm demeanor during this period and assured that a resolution is imminent.

Govender was taken into custody on March 2 at Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport when security personnel discovered five bullets in his luggage through X-ray screening. At the time of his arrest, Govender was on the verge of boarding a flight bound for Johannesburg. The suspect, who had his left hand amputated following a robbery incident in 2020, explained that the bullets were unintentionally left in his bag from a previous visit to a shooting range, stating he had purchased a firearm for self-defense purposes.

The arrest came just days after Govender entered Zimbabwe for a week-long business trip related to a money transfer operation, marking his inaugural visit to the nation. He subsequently appeared in Harare Magistrates Court without legal representation and awaits further proceedings.

The initial travel disruption was triggered by an email sent to regional airline Fastjet, warning of a “credible bomb or firearm threat,” which led to President Mnangagwa’s flight being diverted back to Harare. The email, purportedly from an individual identifying as “John Doe,” hinted at an imminent threat to flights and a conference in Victoria Falls. Despite extensive searches, no explosives were found, although the incident has resulted in heightened security measures at airports across Zimbabwe.

The connection between Govender and the threat, especially considering his physical disability, has raised questions about the credibility of the email and the viability of the alleged threat. As investigations continue, the incident underscores the challenges of maintaining security in a region where threats, whether credible or hoaxed, have the power to cause significant disruption and concern.