Spate of kidnapping for ransom sparks fear among business elites in SA

Wealthy businessmen are living on the edge as kidnappings for ransom is spiraling – and they want police to step up action, writes an Al Qalam Reporter.

While kidnappers of wealthy Cape Town businessman, Liyaqat Parker, 65, have reportedly made a heavy ransom demand in 50 Bitcoins for his release, there is growing fear among the country’s Muslim business elite that they too could also be targeted.

It is not known whether negotiations are underway, but earlier his family made an impassioned plea for his release.

Meanwhile, Solly Suleman, Chairman of the Durban-based Minara Chamber of Commerce told Al Qalam that the number of high profile Muslim businessmen being kidnapped and being held for ransom money running into millions was deeply worrying the business community in South Africa.

 He said: “The Minara Chamber notes with concern the kidnapping of prominent businessmen – a relatively new phenomenon which was prevalent in Mozambique .

“There are rumors that international syndicates are asking for the ransom to be paid in Forex or Bitcoins.

“The growth of violent crime is now being exacerbated by these kidnappings followed by death threats. The private sector spends billions of rands on security since the South African Police Services seem to be completely impotent in dealing with crime in South Africa.

“Government has to take dramatic steps and improve its intelligence on the ground to prevent this type of crime which can get out of control quite quickly.

“Wealthy businessmen will have to increase their security by hiring full time body guards at considerable cost.

“Ultimately there has to be a  a coordinated approach by both the private business sector, the security industry and government to provide a safe , secure business environment that will make SA a good tourist and investment destination .

“The alternative is an economy that will spiral downwards destroying people’s income and lives.” Suleman added.

The Muslim Judicial Council (MJC) said it was deeply concerned and dismayed to hear that another prominent businessman, Mr Liyaqat Ali Parker was kidnapped from his office parking lot on July 9.

Parker is a Founder member of the Food Property Group (who owns the chain of Foodworld Stores), a board member of Al Amien Foods and a non-executive board member of Brimstone Investment.

The Parker family has pleaded for him to be returned unharmed.

“Our father and brother is an elderly man‚ so we also appeal to those who may be involved or know the person who may be connected with this crime‚ to just please release him unharmed before his health deteriorates‚” the family said in a media statement on Tuesday.

“We further request from everyone to allow the family enough space and time within which to process these traumatic events.”

Last year‚ wealthy businessman Sadeck Zhaun Ahmed‚ 71‚ also from Cape Town was kidnapped in similar circumstances outside his business. He was reunited with his family.

Mishka Daries, spokesperson of the MJC said: Our thoughts and Duas are with the family during this challenging time. We request authorities to swiftly investigate and find Mr Parker. May Allah Almighty grant him a safe return. Ameen.

The Jamiatul Ulama South Africa (JUSA) also commented, saying Parker’s case follows that of Shiraz Gattoo, another prominent community and businessman, in Johannesburg, who has been missing since the 10 March 2018. 

Secretary General of the Jamiatul Ulama South Africa Ml Ebrahim Bham says the community is troubled and concerned by such suspected cases of kidnapping, which were once rare, but now seemingly taking a pattern.

“We appeal to the Minister of Police as well as the National Commissioner of the South African Police Service (SAPS) and all relevant law enforcement agencies to prioritise these cases, in order to stymie any criminal elements that are involved in kidnappings.”

Ml Bham has requested that congregants at all mosques and all people of goodwill to pray for the safe return of the kidnapped community members to their families. 

Mettle Administrative Services

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