Hunt continues for four abducted Limpopo brothers as family declines interviews

21 October 2021 - 17:05
By Shonisani Tshikalange
A search is under way for four children kidnapped in Polokwane. Stock photo.
Image: PAUL FLEET/123RF A search is under way for four children kidnapped in Polokwane. Stock photo.

The family of the kidnapped four young Limpopo brothers has opted to hold off on sharing information through media interviews and has requested that the children's photos not be published, due to the "sensitivity of the matter".

The Moti brothers – Zia, 15, Alaan, 13, Zayyad, 11, and Zidan, 6 – were in a scholar transport vehicle when men allegedly armed with R5 assault rifles forced the driver off the road on Wednesday morning in Bendor, Polokwane.

Limpopo police spokesperson Brig Motlafela Mojapelo said the children were forcefully removed from the vehicle. Seven men dressed in white overalls got out of the cars and opened fire. Mojapelo said the police hunt for the abductors continues.

TimesLIVE reported that community policing forum media liaison officer Francois Swart said the children’s father is a wealthy businessman who owns several businesses in Polokwane.

Family lawyer Philip Smit told TimesLIVE the parents of the four kidnapped brothers have asked to hold off on media interviews and sharing pictures as the matter is sensitive.

“At this stage it is a very sensitive matter,” said Smit.

However, Smit confirmed that the children had not been found by Thursday afternoon.

Speaking to TimesLIVE, Lizette Lancaster from the Institute for Security Studies said there are benefits and risks to sharing the incident widely.

“There is a high level of planning involved and it might be that these people are quite cool and collected and they know exactly what they are doing, they have done this before — and in that case, getting the police involved and making sure that you use all avenues to track down these children is quite important to make sure that these people are found and arrested.

“Of course there is always the risk that matters become almost hot ... they might choose to abandon the children somewhere or abandon their plans to ask for a ransom. But it was very well planned and the chances are that they will still [make a demand]. We are just speculating,” she said.

It was possible that organised gangs were involved in this, based on the modus operandi.

“It might also be that it's people close to them or people who have watched them over a period of time, so clearly there is some intimate knowledge of their movements. This was very well planned and the deliberate use of violence by shooting and so on is obviously to intimidate,” said Lancaster.

As a parent, I can only try to imagine what the Moti couple is going through. It is very upsetting.
Social development MEC Nkakareng Rakgoale

She said there has been a significant increase in kidnappings in SA.

“Since 2011 until March last year, we saw a 131% increase in kidnappings. We don’t really know this year yet, the police haven’t released the crime stats up to March this year so we don’t know how much it’s increased, but it seems from the quarterly stats that there has been an increase,” she said.

Jacaranda FM reported that the family has reason to believe the abductors would still make contact with ransom demands.

Lancaster said only about 5% of kidnappings that are reported to the police are for ransom or extortion.

The Limpopo department of social development said it had dispatched a team of social workers to both the Moti family and the school the children are attending.

Social development MEC Nkakareng Rakgoale said the violent way in which the children were taken was disturbing and their safety was of serious concern. 

“A team of social workers will this morning visit the family to start with the provision of psychosocial support. As a parent, I can only try to imagine what the Moti couple is going through. It is very upsetting.

“We urge anyone with information on the whereabouts of these children to contact the police. Our social workers will be with the family, while we are still praying and hoping for the safe return of the children” said Rakgoale.

Anyone with information can contact the investigating officer Capt Ntlane Rasedile on 082-565-8566.