Bitcoin kidnapping: Three taken into custody

23 May 2018 - 11:18 By Naledi Shange
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Image: 123RF/ Allan Swart

Three people have been taken into police custody in connection with the disappearance of 12-year-old Katlego Marite.

Wednesday marked the third day of the alleged abduction. His mother revealed how a lead had popped up just hours after he was taken.

Speaking to TimesLIVE from her Witbank home‚ Miriam Marite said the lead had come from a former colleague. He had rushed to her house after hearing of Katlego's kidnapping from locals. They showed him the CCTV footage taken from a neighbour's house‚ revealing the moments before and after the boy was forced into a silver-coloured Toyota Corolla‚ which sped off with him.

After seeing the footage‚ Marite's colleague decided to go in search of the alleged suspects' car.

"He said to us‚ 'Let me drive quickly to the location to go to different taverns and where they drink‚' and as he was there‚ [at a place] they call Lunchbox‚ he called us and said he has seen the car‚" Marite said.

Marite said she and her family all rushed to the scene‚ along with the police and members of the community crime watch group.

The three men who were in the vehicle similar to the one that drove off with Katlego were taken by the police.

"I don't know what is the latest‚" said Marite.

Brigadier Leonard Hlathi told TimesLIVE that no suspects had been arrested or charged‚ adding that taking in people for questioning did not automatically mean they would be charged.

It was not immediately clear whether the three who were questioned had since been released from police custody.

TimesLIVE understands‚ however‚ that the vehicle was still in the possession of police on Tuesday afternoon.

The Marite family say they have yet to hear anything further from the kidnappers‚ who had threatened to hang and decapitate Katlego if their demands were not met.

The last communication they received was on Sunday when they received a ransom note‚ which detailed their demand for 15 Bitcoins in exchange for Katlego's safe return.

The cryptocurrency trades for around R100‚000 per unit‚ meaning the kidnappers are expecting around R1.5 million.

Speaking to TimesLIVE‚ Marite said they had battled to meet the demands of the kidnappers as they were not even fully aware of what Bitcoins were.

According to‚ Bitcoin is a finite‚ decentralized digital currency which is not tied to any government or bank.

"The payments using Bitcoin can be done instantly anywhere across the globe using peer-to-peer technology for a very nominal cost‚" the website states.

"The tasks like tracking of the transactions and issuing new money are managed collectively by the network‚ making it safe and anonymous to an extent."

Meanwhile‚ a mass gathering was held outside the Marite home‚ known to locals as Nkandla‚ on Tuesday night. The prayer meeting was attended by locals and members of the ANC Women's League.

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