by Yusuf Abramjee.
The next big organized crime has hit South Africa- Kidnappings.
There has been a series of kidnappings over recent years and it appears to be escalating.
What is worrying is that these syndicates are becoming more daring and they are clearly sophisticated.
Kidnapping syndicates have been operating for some time – taking their victims and demanding ransoms running into tens of millions of rands.
Many of these gangs have been arrested. Others continuing cropping-up targeting largely Indian, Pakistani, Chinease, Bangladeshi Zimbabwean and Mozambican nationals living in South Africa.
Many of the victims are forced to pay ransom locally. Other gangs demand payment in foreign countries making it difficult for law enforcement agencies to follow the trail.
I assisted a family of Polokwane last year when Anisah Moosa was kidnapped. The gang demanded R3-million cash and they were eventually arrested. The suspects are all South Africans.
There has since been a number of similar kidnappings. A businessman in Mafikeng was kidnapped a few weeks ago and freed by police within 24 hours. Arrests were made.
A wealthy Cape Town businessman, Naushad Deshmukh Khan, 46, was kidnapped late last year. The kidnappers demanded millions of dollars in cash.
Sources say a ransom of $750 000 was eventually paid and Khan was freed two months later. No arrests have been made.
Khan’s kidnapping was the first in South Africa having the features of an international organized crime syndicate at work. For obvious reasons, some of the information cannot be shared.
In July, prominent Cape Town businessman Zhaun Ahmed (71) was kidnapped outside his offices in Woodstock. He is still missing.
And earlier this month, Pretoria businessman Omar Carrim was kidnapped after leaving his business in the city for home in Laudium. He is also still missing.
Carrim’s luxury car was found burned on the outskirts of Erasmia west of Pretoria the next day.
Reports say there have been ransom demands for Ahmed and Carrim. But the families are refusing to talk. All they are pleading for is the safe return of their loved ones.
Last week, a Bangladeshi restaurant owner was kidnapped in Lenasia. Again, there has been a ransom demand.
The kidnapping of Ahmed and Carrim seems to have been well-organized and I will not be surprised that highly-trained former foreign soldiers could be involved as “runners.”
Local rogue cops may also be aiding and abetting the syndicates.
The kingpin/s could be even sitting abroad and giving orders. All they are interested in is getting the hard-earned cash from their victims.
Kidnappings were rife in Maputo for years. Scores of business people were kidnapped. While most were freed after paying tens of millions of dollars in ransom, two victims were killed.
Police is Mozambique, assisted by international law enforcement agencies, broke the backbone of these syndicates.
Speculation is rife locally that some of these gang members from Maputo may be involved in the latest kidnappings in South Africa.
The string of kidnappings has caused much fear and panic, especially amongst South Africa’s Indian community and also foreigners living in South Africa.
Some have taken steps to beef-up their personal security and that of their families.
The gangs are demanding millions of rands from their victims- far beyond their life-long savings.
Authorities need to act with vigour and get to the bottom of these kidnapping syndicates.
These gangs think they can get away with their ill-gotten gains. The law will eventually catch-up with them. Remember, you can run but you cannot hide!
Money laundering syndicates are also apparently working in cahoots with these kidnapping syndicates.
Someone, somewhere, somehow knows something. We need to break our silence and get these criminals arrested. If anyone has any information, please come forward.
Let’s also pray for the safe return of the victims.
If authorities don’t act now and act decisively, criminals will continue running amok.
We must stand united and DO something. We need to fight crime as a collective and we must now NOT allow these thugs to take our country over.
I remain hopeful that Police Minister Fikile Mbalula and the SAPS will act decisively. Crime is out of control and communities must stand up and say “enough is enough”. Let’s unite.
Now is the time! It’s time to #MakeSASafe
*Yusuf Abramjee is an anti-crime activist. He is an Interpol #TurnBackCrime Ambassador and also Namola Safety App’s Chief Ambassador.