Mpumalanga police arrest two Bitcoin kidnapping suspects
Mpumalanga police, after months of hard work, have arrested two people alleged to be behind the kidnapping of a Witbank teenager and the attempted kidnapping of a girl from Middelburg.
The incidents happened in May and August 2018.
In the Witbank case, the suspects demanded ransom in the form of Bitcoins for the safe return of the 13-year-old boy. Police suspect a similar plan in the second case, had the abduction succeeded.
"These cases were the first of their kind in Mpumalanga and a task team comprising of different units within the South African Police Service was immediately established by police management to investigate this matter," said Brigadier Leonard Hlathi.
"The dedicated formations left no stone unturned in their investigation, knitting all clues and eventually their efforts yielded positive results as the suspects were arrested thereafter at different locations," he added.
The suspects behind the kidnappings in the neighbouring towns are men aged 30 and 31. One was nabbed in November in Germiston in Gauteng, while the second was arrested in Ladysmith, KwaZulu-Natal, on December 30.
The first victim was the Witbank boy, who was snatched near his home on May 20 as he walked back from a nearby spaza shop with a friend.
Part of the brazen kidnapping, which happened in broad daylight, was captured on a neighbour's CCTV camera.
TimesLIVE saw the footage, which showed the moments the boy was forced into a silver-coloured Toyota Corolla‚ which sped off with him inside, while his friend stood in disbelief.
After his parents rushed to the police station to report the kidnapping, they returned to find a ransom note in their yard. The amount demanded was the equivalent of R1.5m.
A few days later, he was reunited with his family unharmed. Police had not disclosed whether any ransom had been paid for his safe return.
"A few months later, on 21 August 2018, the suspects attempted to kidnap a 13-year-old girl in Aerorand, Middelburg," said Hlathi.
"They dragged her into their vehicle, a VW Polo, but the girl shouted for help and was heard by a group of people working nearby, who swiftly came to her aid and helped her escape.
"The suspects fled the scene, thereafter leaving their vehicle abandoned with their belongings inside. During the investigation, it was established that they (suspects) had the same intentions as in the first case," Hlathi said.
The two suspects appeared in court on Tuesday and were granted R1,000 bail each, Hlathi said.
According to Markets.com‚ Bitcoin is a finite‚ decentralised digital currency which is not tied to any government or bank.