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Police seize R6m in cash as ringleader linked to several kidnappings arrested in Gauteng

  • Police arrested the alleged ringleader behind the recent kidnapping of a Lenasia businessman.
  • The man is also linked to five other similar kidnapping cases in Gauteng.
  • The businessman was rescued and reunited with his family.

The police are battling sophisticated syndicates behind the escalating kidnappings of businesspeople in the country.

Police spokesperson Colonel Athlenda Mathe said that, in the battle to curb the increasing nature of the crime, it has been established that they are not dealing with one syndicate.

“We have discovered that several groupings in the country are behind the spate of kidnappings. Each group has a mastermind or its ringleader. We are confident that we are making inroads with the latest arrests and identification of these groupings,” said Mathe.

On Thursday night, the police pounced on a group of suspected kidnappers and rescued an abducted Lenasia businessman.

The alleged leader behind the group is a Mozambican. The 43-year-old man was arrested, along with five other members of his gang.

“The man is linked to five kidnapping cases. He has dual citizenship. He has been in the country for several years,” Mathe said.

A kidnapping expert recently told News24 that kidnappings for ransom had emerged as a criminal trend in Mozambique around a decade ago, speculating that the trend had spread over the border into South Africa.

Transnational syndicates often orchestrate these high-profile kidnappings.

The kidnappers know what their victims are worth, and they will usually only be released after steep ransom demands.

But it also appears as if local copycat groups are springing up in South Africa.

Lenasia businessman Luqman Kazi, 34, was kidnapped while on his way to work on 15 March.

Following his kidnapping, a multidisciplinary team was assembled to rescue him. 

The team followed leads, which led them to identified properties. Kazi was found and rescued from a property in Lawley, near Lenasia.

He was reunited with his family.

At the property, police seized a 9mm unlicensed firearm and arrested three people.

At the second property in Lenasia, police arrested three more people, including the alleged ringleader.

Police also seized R6 million in cash.

“The money is believed to be ransom paid during other kidnapping cases. Police also recovered an AK47 rifle, ammunition, a hijacked motor vehicle, a VW Polo, used to kidnap Kazi, military-grade signal jammers and various vehicle registration number plates,” said Mathe.

The six individuals face charges of kidnapping, extortion, money laundering, possession of unlicensed firearms and ammunition, and possession of a hijacked motor vehicle. 

Meanwhile, police also rescued four Bangladesh nationals in Bertrams, Johannesburg.

The four were kidnapped on 10 March in Musina, Limpopo. 

Mathe said they arrested two Ethiopian nationals linked to the crime. 

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