Brigadier Athlenda Mathe,

SA police bust alleged Zimbo kidnapping mastermind

A SOUTH Africa multidisciplinary team led by the National Anti-Kidnapping Task Team recently arrested five people, including a Zimbabwean man, his wife and girlfriend, as kidnappings continue to surge in the country.

According to the police, to date, more than 124 kidnapping suspects have been arrested, with 81 of them still in police custody.

Police said the suspects were arrested for their alleged involvement in the kidnapping of a Midrand businessman on January 18. According to SAPS spokesperson Brigadier Athlenda Mathe, the suspects demanded a ransom payment from the victim’s family and business associates.

“The suspects were arrested at residential properties between Pretoria and Johannesburg,” Mathe said. She revealed that a Toyota Corolla and a Toyota Quantum that were used in the commission of the crime, as well as multiple phones and SIM cards, had been seized.

According to the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime (GI-TOC) in its Strategic Organised Crime Risk Assessment report for South Africa published in September 2022, in the first six months of 2022, an average of 1143 kidnappings a month were reported to the police.

In November last year, IOL News published a story about a Midrand businessman, Kevin Soal, 68, who was allegedly shot execution style and a large amount of money was stolen from his bank account, according to Mike Bolhuis, a private investigator and crime expert from S.S.S. Specialist Investigators.

Bolhuis said it was alleged that the victim was taken to a secluded area and shot. He said the increasing number of kidnappings that turn into murders was a matter of concern. Last week, police arrested four suspects after a businessman who had just landed at OR Tambo International Airport from India was kidnapped.

The victim was kidnapped upon arrival on January 20. Preliminary investigations indicated that the businessman was lured to South Africa by a syndicate posing as businessmen. After kidnapping him, the men demanded a ransom from his family in India.

Four cellphones, including the one used to communicate with the family, were seized, as were the victim’s watch and driver’s licence. One firearm and several SIM cards were also seized. A substantial amount of money was seized, which was believed to be ransom payments.

The suspects appeared in the Kempton Park Magistrate’s Court, facing charges of kidnapping and extortion. They will appear again in court soon.

Meanwhile, Mathe said that at this year’s National Excellence Awards that were held over the weekend in Limpopo, the National Anti-Kidnapping Task Team was awarded the 2021/2022 Crime Intelligence Team of the Year award for their role in preventing, combating, investigating and apprehending those behind kidnappings, especially where ransom demands were made.

“To date, more than 124 suspects have been arrested, with 81 of them still in police custody,” Mathe said. —The Star

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