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Money trail leads Gauteng cops to hostage

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THE STAR

Detective Constable Lesiba Kekana and Warrant Officer Mokapu Maedi are likely to get a commendation for their work in tracing a kidnapped Bangladeshi man. Picture: Dumisani Sibeko

Johannesburg -

A ransom, a missing Bangladeshi and a case with no leads.

The kidnapped man had to be found alive and quickly, but there was little that Warrant Officer Mokapu Maedi and his partner, Detective Constable Lesiba Kekana, could work on when they were handed the case at Vosloorus police station last Monday.

What they knew was that the man had been missing for 48 hours, and that kidnappers had told his family he would die if they did not get R50 000.

The case was opened after the victim’s brother asked the Bangladeshi embassy for help on January 24.

The story Maedi and Kekana were given was that the victim had gone to meet someone regarding a business venture. They had travelled by taxi to Tsakane in Ekurhuleni, and there he had disappeared.

Then came the instructions – R5 000 was to be deposited at the money transfer service at Shoprite, which enables customers to send and receive money without the need for a bank account.

The detectives realised this might just give them a break in the case.

To collect the ransom, said Maedi, the kidnappers would have to make 10 withdrawals as there is a daily limit of R5 000 on the service.

“Also, you need to provide an ID, and we could use this to trace someone.”

The first R5 000 deposit and withdrawal had already been made on the Saturday at Tsakane Mall.

On the day they received the case, the pair alerted Shoprite and asked the retailer to flag the account.

Hours later, they got a hit.

Someone had made a withdrawal on the account at Carnival Mall.

Using the ID number on the withdrawal slip, the detectives traced the transaction to a cleaner who worked at the mall. He said he had been asked by someone to make the withdrawal.

“We didn't arrest him, as we wanted to use him as a witness,” said Maedi. “Our worry was for the victim, and the cleaner said he would help us.”

On Tuesday, another deposit was made, and not long afterwards, the detectives got the news they had been waiting for.

Security guards at a Shoprite in Boksburg had held 37-year-old Tebogo Mohapi for trying to withdraw from the flagged account.

He allegedly pointed them to a residential home in Tsakane.

There in the garage of the house was their hostage. His legs and arms had been chained and he was alive.

“He hadn’t eat the food they had given him, so he hadn’t eaten since Friday,” said Maedi.

The kidnapped man was released unhurt, but he still fears for his life, and didn’t want to be named.

The SAPS arrested the owner of the house, 50-year-old Cornelius Ntshalintshali.

He and Mohapi have appeared in the Vosloorus Magistrate’s Court on charges of kidnapping, but they are apparently not alone.

They have fingered a Bangladeshi – known as Hassan – as the mastermind.

The hunt now is on to find him.

shaun.smillie@inl.co.za

The Star


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