Durban - A kidnap victim has told of his ordeal and how his captors threatened to sell him for muti if his family did not meet the ransom demand.
Gerald Pieters, 45, a butchery manager, was kidnapped from Denis Hurley (Queen) Street last Thursday evening.
He claimed he was taken to Port Shepstone where he slept on the floor of a shack before he was released on Monday.
His kidnappers contacted his family through WhatsApp and demanded R20 000 for his release, failing which they threatened to sell him to traditional healers for muti.
Police spokesman Captain Thulani Zwane said that a case of kidnapping was being investigated.
Pieters, of Newlands East, said he had been walking to the taxi rank in Soldiers Way when he was accosted by three men and bundled into a white VW Golf.
His wife, Ruth, said she panicked when her husband did not return home. His cellphone also went unanswered.
She said she had to wait 48 hours before she could report him missing to police.
On Friday morning she called his workplace but he was not there.
“It was unlike him to be out late. I contacted our church group and we began to pray for his safe return,” Ruth said.
Pieters said two of the men searched him in the car and demanded money.
He said a third man placed a knife to his back.
The suspects took his wallet, wedding ring and phone.
“We drove to an isolated area where there were only two shacks.”
He said he spent the next few days and nights sleeping on the floor.
“They kept checking on me and every time they came into the shack I was kicked. Once they even offered me brandy. I asked them for water instead.”
Meanwhile, his wife was searching hospitals and mortuaries.
She got the ransom demand on Sunday via her husband’s phone. Ruth said she tried calling, but no one answered.
She messaged the kidnappers asking for proof that her husband was alive and well.
They replied saying they could meet in a public place to do the exchange.
“They wanted us to meet at a local hospital, but later changed their mind. They sent me a picture of him. He was not looking well. They stopped messaging us on Sunday afternoon and I became even more desperate,” Ruth said.
The kidnappers said they would send Ruth his finger if she did not pay up.
On Monday night the kidnappers dropped him off on the M4 freeway near Blue Lagoon.
Pieters used a security guard’s phone to call home. He was not aware the men were asking for a ransom.
“I was out of my mind in the darkness. I could hear their voices around the shack, but could do nothing. I thought I was going to die,” Pieters said.
Reverend Robbie Ross said Pieters was a member of his congregation and he was shocked to hear he had been missing.
He said he was also in contact with the captors, via WhatsApp, sending them prayers of deliverance.
“We worked together with police. It is a miracle that he was alive. We feared the worse for him. Everyone came together and prayed,” Ross said.