Is SA turning into Africa’s kidnapping hot spot?
The Hawks and the SAPS have set up a task team to investigate the kidnappings of more than 40 businesspeople by syndicates that demand ransoms of up to R50-million.
The Hawks revealed that 24 kidnappings have occurred in South Africa in the past 18 months.
Police records show that at least three business people are reported kidnapped every month, but there is suspicion that the figure may be higher as some cases are not reported.
Kidnapping expert Martin Ewi of the Institute for Security Studies said if the trend continued, South Africa could become Africa’s kidnapping hot spot.
“On average, we see three prominent kidnappings a month,” said Ewi.
In just the past two weeks, several incidents have made headlines. They include:
- Polish businesswoman Barbara Wadolowska was kidnapped outside her Sandton hotel on April 10 and held for a ransom of €2-million (about R30-million). A large portion of this was paid and she was released near OR Tambo airport on April 13;
- Pakistani Majeed “Manjla” Khan was assassinated on the M1 in Johannesburg in peak-hour traffic on April 18. The shooting is believed to be related to the turf war between two kidnapping syndicates. A crime intelligence source claimed Khan headed the financing section of one syndicate; and
- Police arrested seven people in raids on three properties in the south of Johannesburg on April 18. At one house, an Eldorado Park man was rescued after being kidnapped on April 16 and held for ransom.
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