MY SCARY KIDNAP ORDEAL
The kidnapping of many rich, mainly Muslim businessmen across the country in recent months has sparked an urgent call to hunt down, at any cost, the syndicate believed to be behind the reign of terror.
“We must hunt down the masterminds and we must raise millions of rand if necessary to bring the enemies to justice,” the group, Concerned Muslims of South Africa, has said in a statement shared on Facebook by anti-crime activist Yusuf Abramjee.
“The masterminds take our hard-earned cash and buy expensive clothing and watches which they show off on Facebook,” the post states.
The group’s members could not be reached for comment by the time of publication, but the post mentioned several businessmen who were kidnapped.
One from Cape Town had been held for 10 weeks under “difficult conditions” before he was released after his family had allegedly paid a ransom of millions of rand.
“The hard reality is that Muslims are responsible for these crimes and the kingpins are known to us now,” the post continued.
“They are in hiding and with the help of Allah they will be hunted down and punished.”
The group claimed only wealthy Muslim business people were being targeted.
“We fear more kidnappings We have to stop these criminals and protect our community whatever it takes.”
Business people from Durban, Johannesburg, Cape Town, Nelspruit, Mpumalanga and other towns and cities had been kidnapped, the group claimed.
Johannesburg businessman Hoosain Nahid, originally of Bangladesh, told POST about his ordeal at the hands of kidnappers who had taken him after he had closed his restaurant, Al Zam Zam, on the Golden Highway in Lenasia South on August 20.
At the time, Lenasia South police spokesperson Sergeant Khalipha Mvula said that as Nahid got into his bakkie, five armed men pulled him out and forced him into their Toyota Quantum before fleeing in the direction of Vlakfontein.
Nahid was released recently, but police have not yet released further information, saying the incident was still under investigation.
Nahid, who moved to South Africa eight years ago, said his kidnappers were all South African and kept him in a home in Johannesburg.
“When they kidnapped me, we drove around for an hour and a half. My eyes were covered and I was not sure where in the city I was. I was kept in a room with my hands and feet tied. They only untied my hands so I could eat,” he said. “They did not beat me.”
Nahid said the men demanded between R50000 and R100000 before they would free him.
“They asked for my family’s contact numbers, but I told them that I was living alone and had no family, and I did not have such a large sum of money.”
Nahid said after weeks of keeping him captive, they let him go.
Describing the ordeal as scary, Nahid said he was taking it one day at a time.
“When I told them I did not have any money, I thought they were going to kill me. I was very scared.”
Abramjee said the kidnapping of businessmen was the “next big organised crime” to hit South Africa.
“There has been a series of kidnappings over recent years and it appears to be escalating,” he said.
“Kidnapping syndicates have been operating for some time – taking their victims and demanding ransoms running into tens of millions of rand.”
Abramjee said many of these gang members had been arrested, but others were continuing to target largely Indian, Pakistani, Chinese, 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 in Polokwane last year when Anisah Moosa was kidnapped. The gang demanded R3million and they were eventually arrested. The suspects are all South Africans.”
He said the kidnappings had caused fear and panic, especially among the Indian community and foreigners living in South Africa.
Money-laundering syndicates were also apparently working in cahoots with these kidnapping syndicates, Abramjee said.
“Someone, somewhere, somehow knows something. We need to break our silence and get these criminals arrested. If anyone has any information, please come forward,” he said.
“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.”
Warisur Rahman, of the Bangladesh High Commission, said they were thankful Nahid was found unharmed.
“These matters were ongoing and we are working hand in hand with the SAPS and the Department of International Relations in order to find the culprits behind the kidnappings.”
National police spokesperson, Brigadier Vishnu Naidoo, was unable to confirm if there had been a spike in kidnappings of businessmen in South Africa.