Pietermaritzburg man hands himself over to police in connection with alleged kidnapping plot
A Pietermaritzburg man‚ suspected to be part of syndicate led by a local Pakistani businessman which allegedly plotted to kidnap the son of a local businessman for ransom‚ handed himself over to the police on Tuesday.
A well-placed source who is part of the police investigation told TimesLIVE that the man‚ believed to be in his 40s‚ handed himself over after Pakistani businessman Asif Mohammed’s appearance in the Pietermaritzburg Magistrate’s Court on Monday for his bail application.
The suspect is expected to appear in court on Friday which will coincide with a decision on whether Mohammed will be granted bail or not. The state is opposing bail for Mohammed.
The 47-year businessman was arrested by the Hawks and Crime Intelligence at his premises in Church Street in the provincial capital city on September 28 after revealing a plot to kidnap the 18-year-old son of a local businessman to undercover police agents in September.
At the time the Hawks said more arrests were likely and that Mohammed‚ who is facing a charge of conspiracy to commit a kidnapping‚ might face additional charges. He is also accused of plotting to kidnap the daughter of a prominent businessman in East London in the Eastern Cape and demanding a R10-million ransom.
By kidnapping the son of a Pietermaritzburg man he believed he could make between R3-million and R4-million in ransom. But his alleged plot was foiled when an informant alerted the police‚ who set up a trap by dispatching two undercover police agents posing as the men who would assist him with the kidnapping.
The slight‚ balding and bespectacled Mohammed‚ who was accompanied by his wife in a green head scarf‚ tried to cover himself with a hoodie to prevent photographers from taking his pictures during his bail application.
He and his wife submitted affidavits in support of his bail application. However‚ the magistrate wanted to make sure that Mohammed understood the contents of the affidavit that he had signed‚ to which he agreed.
The magistrate then asked the interpreter who was fluent in his home language to read the state’s affidavit in opposition to his bail application but Mohammed appeared to disagree with some of the contents. The presiding officer intervened and asked the interpreter to just read the affidavit as it was.
The father of two children‚ aged 11 and 15‚ has stated he intended to pleading not guilty to the charge against him.
Investigating officer Johannes Anthony De Lange said Mohammed had no fixed assets and that it would be easy for him to dispose of his movable assets and evade trial if he was granted bail.
He said the state had a very strong case against him and he could face a lengthy period of imprisonment should he be found guilty.