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Durban - A spat between two Durban businessmen turned violent this week, when one allegedly orchestrated the assault and violent kidnapping of the other because he had reneged on a payment plan.
Kevin Graham, of Forest Hills near Waterfall, alleges that he was assaulted and abducted by two men who he claims were dispatched by Durban businessman Brian Martin, when Graham failed to pay a debt of R70 000.
He was snatched from his home on Monday, and CCTV cameras captured the two unidentified men aggressively shoving him towards a car in his driveway.
The footage then shows a protesting Graham being assaulted by the two men, who identified themselves as private investigators paid by Martin. He alleges he was then driven to Martin’s office in Durban and forced to sign over a car that does not belong to him as collateral.
Graham has laid charges of assault, kidnapping and theft of motor vehicle against Martin and his cohorts, who handed themselves in to provide statements on Friday.
Graham, a qualified helicopter pilot, said he had run a small business and after he was fleeced by former partners, had fallen on hard times.
“When I was done in by my partners I lost everything and needed to start selling off the things I didn’t need because I was out of work. One of those things was my Toyota Prado, which Brian Martin said he wanted to buy from me,” he said.
According to Graham, when Martin refinanced that vehicle there was a shortfall, which Martin has now claimed over a year, with interest, to total R70 000.
“I have no money to pay anyone. I am not running away from my debt. My house is on the market and as soon as that sold I would have the money to settle the debt with Brian,” he said.
Speaking of his assault, Graham said one of Martin’s men had come to his house the week before, under the auspices of buying the property.
“This week he phoned me and said he was interested and wanted to negotiate a price. When I arrived at my house to meet him he was with another man and said they were not there for the house.
“They said Brian had sent them because I hadn’t paid… When I resisted, they roughed me up and said if I carried on fighting they would start breaking bones,” Graham said.
When confronted by Martin, Graham alleges they forced him to sign over his bakkie until he had the necessary capital to pay his debt.
“They forced me to sign this agreement they had written out, even though I told them the bakkie is registered to my sister and I can’t just sign it over. Eventually I just scribbled on the piece of paper to get out of there,” he said.
Several documents seen by the Sunday Tribune confirm the sale of the vehicle and that an attempt had been made to sign the bakkie over to Martin.
Graham called for the assistance of private investigator Brad Nathanson, who agreed to act on his behalf free of charge. “There are ways to handle disputes and sending men to accost people, assault them and threaten them with harm is certainly not one of them.
“I called Mr Martin and instructed him to return the car, which had by all accounts been stolen when it was taken under duress, which he acquiesced to do,” he said.
“Mr Martin met us in the car park of a football club. He handed some documents to me, which he asked that Mr Graham sign.
“These documents were acknowledgments of debt,” he said.
“Mr Martin gave me the keys for Mr Graham’s car, (which I returned to him).”
Nathanson confirmed that cases of theft, kidnapping and assault had been opened at the Hillcrest police station.
Martin vociferously denied claims that he had paid the two men to kidnap Graham.
He contested that Graham had been forced to accompany them, a statement in contrast to the video footage.
Police spokesman Captain Thulani Zwane said a case had been opened and that the investigation was under way.