Anti-crime activist, Yusuf Abramjee, has penned the following open letter to the Minister of Police and the National Commissioner of the SAPS following a space of kidnappings in South Africa.
Dear Police Minister Fikile Mbalula and National Commissioner General Khehla Sitole,
I am writing this open letter to you to create awareness about the spate of kidnappings in South Africa and to urge you to take urgent steps to bring the syndicates to book.
When the crime statistics were released late last year, the South African Police Service (SAPS) failed to give figures on kidnappings. I raised the issue publicly and I am still awaiting a response.
Kidnappings are certainly on the increase in South Africa and this is very worrying. It appears organized syndicates are at work and we are also seeing smaller or amateur groups carrying out “copy-cat” kidnappings.
I have written previously that it appears some of these organized syndicates have international links. In some cases, the ransom had to be paid in foreign countries.
While some arrests have been made in the “copy-cat” incidents, other groups are continuing to kidnap especially business people.
We have seen South Africans of Indian origin being targeted as well as Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Chinese, Zimbabwean and Indian nationals.
Just today (Jan 15), the body of North West businessman Hasan Parvej (32) was found. He was kidnapped from his store some 70km from Mahikeng last week.
The kidnappers demanded R1-million cash. The family only managed to raise some R70 000 and asked for more time. The kidnappers wanted the part payment, and hours after the cash drop-off, Parvej’s body was found in bushes. He had multiple stab wounds.
Over the holiday period, an Indian businessman was kidnapped in Limpopo. The gang demanded R6-million cash. Police set-up a sting operation and arrested one suspect after a high-speed chase.
In December, Pretoria businessman Omar Carrim (76) was released after being held captive for 137 days. It is believed the family was forced to pay a large ransom.
A few months earlier, Cape Town businessman Sadek Zhaun Ahmed was released after being kidnapped and held for several weeks. He also reportedly paid a large ransom.
Businessman Naushad Deshmukh Khan (46) of Cape Town was kidnapped in late 2016 and held for weeks. He paid millions of rands in ransom and was freed.
There have also been a number of kidnappings in KZN. Some of these victims fled Mozambique fearing that the syndicates will target them only to come to South Africa and being taken.
I assisted the Moosa family of Polokwane in 2016 after Anisah Moosa (36) was kidnapped. The gang demanded R3-million. The victim was freed after a shootout with police. Three men were later arrested. They were released on bail. One was shot dead in December in a robbery in Tzaneen.
Many kidnapping cases also go unreported. The families fear going to the police.
In Mozambique, we saw scores of kidnappings over a four-year period. Authorities eventually clamped down. Some kingpins were arrested and released on bail. They are now fugitives.
It is suspected the same kingpins may be involved in some of the major kidnappings in South Africa. Local business people are seen as easy targets.
The spate of kidnappings has caused much fear within communities. The culprits involved in the major kidnappings have still not been brought to book.
Mr Minister, General: My appeal to you is:
*Please prioritize kidnappings as a matter of urgency. I suggest establishing special teams of experienced detectives to get to the bottom of this.
*Involving international law enforcement agencies to ensure the kingpins are brought to justice.
*Establishing a team of professional police negotiators to deal with all kidnapping cases. Local police do not have the experience nor the skill. This often ends up in victims being murdered.
*Ensuring that the criminal justice system is geared-up to deal with these cases.
*Beefing-up crime intelligence.
*Some of the kidnapping investigations by detectives leaves much to be desired. I’ve had insight into some cases and the standard of investigations is rather poor.
*Using technology to ensure that the kidnappers are arrested without delay.
*Working closer with police in neighbouring countries seeing that some of the criminals are suspected of being from these countries.
In summary, we need to stop the kidnappings. Authorities need to act with urgency. Please establish a special project and prioritize kidnappings.
I remain confident that police will bring the kidnappers to book. The kingpins need to be arrested, charged, convicted and punished. If not, we are going to see more and more business people being taken.
Let’s also appeal to the public to come forward with information. Someone, somewhere, somehow knows something. Please blow the whistle. Do the right thing and #MakeSASafe
We need action and we need it right now please.
With kind regards
Chief Namola Ambassador and Head of #MakeSASafe