Escape from kidnap hell

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KwaZulu-Natal -

The hunt is on for members of a kidnapping syndicate which held a Bangladeshi national hostage for two weeks, torturing him daily while trying to extort ransom money from his family abroad.

Shopkeeper Masum Parves, 27, was released by his captors after two men, thought to be linked to his abduction, were arrested in Richmond on Friday.

The arrests came as three other men were taken into custody during a sting operation in Bangladesh, where the international ring had attempted to collect ransom money from Parves’s family.

Kidnapping syndicates operated by Pakistanis are becoming more prolific in South Africa, with businessmen falling victim to the gangs.

Large ransoms are paid by worried families, often into banks in India and Pakistan.

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Shopkeeper Masum Parves reveals how he was tortured by his abductors with a hot iron. Picture: JEFF WICKS

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During his two weeks of hell, Parves was beaten and tortured daily, with a hot iron being pressed against his skin.

Yesterday he was dropped off in Estcourt in KwaZulu-Natal by his captors, who are now believed to be on the run.

Parves was abducted from his store in Raisethorpe, Pietermaritzburg on January 31, when a friend allegedly lured him from his shop under the auspices of buying stock.

Parves said he could not identify where he was held hostage.

“When they took me, they hit me with a gun and made me drink pills.

“They said if I didn’t do what they wanted they would kill me, and another man was holding a knife to my throat.

“When I woke up I saw this glowing iron in front of my face and they burnt me over and over again,” he said.

Reliving his ordeal, Parves told of how his abductors burnt him as punishment for his family taking a long time to pay the ransom.

“I would phone and speak to my father in Bangladesh but they would not let the call last for longer than 20 seconds. I am just so happy to be alive,” he added.

Magma Security and Investigations head Shaheen Suleiman said a co-ordinated effort by police and his team had led to Parves’s release.

“After the men were arrested in Bangladesh, they named two suspects in Richmond who they were allegedly colluding with,” he said.

“This syndicate is responsible for a number of cases and they are becoming even more brutal in the way they torture their victims, which is unthinkable,” he said.

Suleiman said more arrests were expected as the investigation continued.

In November, Yasir Gulzar, of Kokstad, was subjected to 22 days of terror at the hands of men who kidnapped him, repeatedly beat him and threatened to kill him while they kept him chained to a bedpost.

He was released after a ransom of a million rupees (R161 000) had been paid.

The gang had moved the businessman between safe houses in Durban and Pretoria while they raided his bank accounts and negotiated a hefty ransom with his family in Pakistan.

Police spokesman Colonel Jay Naicker confirmed that a case of attempted murder and kidnapping had been opened and that investigations were ongoing.

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- Sunday Tribune


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