Noor Karriem
Cape Town - A syndicate comprising thugs who are Pakistani nationals, the underworld and bank informers meticulously scrutinise the financial affairs of some prominent businessmen before kidnapping them.

Mike Bolhuis, a specialist investigator into serious, violent and economic crimes, made this comment in the wake of the alleged kidnapping of city businessman Noor Karriem, the owner of Giant Hyper in Epping, on Monday.

“We have investigated several cases since this trend emerged about three years ago. We know of one case where the ransom was paid to the syndicate in Dubai.

“Our investigation into such kidnappings revealed it is two-pronged.

“The one scenario is where wealthy businessmen’s financial accounts are monitored by the syndicate and if they notice that a businessman doesn’t declare taxes then they will target him.

The person is then kidnapped and left with no alternative but to pay or threatened to expose his alleged money laundering.”

Bolhuis added the other scenario is where the kidnapping is allegedly staged by the victim and family to get the money illegally out of the country instead of declaring it to the SA Revenue Service.

He added that kidnapped Indian and Pakistani people seldom register a case because of threats that a family member would be killed.

Police spokesperson Andre Traut confirmed the circumstances surrounding the kidnapping of 64-year-old Karriem are under investigation.

Karriem was allegedly forcefully removed from his business in Epping around 10.45am by gunmen.

Yusuf Abramjee, South Africa’s unofficial crime-fighter, said: “The kidnappers nowadays demand the ransom to be paid in Dubai in US dollars. So far police have been unable to make any breakthroughs.

“These kidnappings are well planned and I’m of the view that they have inside information on their targets. I have sent a letter to the police minister requesting urgent intervention and to seek help of international law authorities to brake the backbone of this international syndicate.”

A police source said that three weeks ago a businessman of Bedfordview in Gauteng was kidnapped and that the kidnappers demanded a $1million (R15m) ransom. He and a Durban woman were still missing, the officer said and that kidnappers were prepared to play a waiting game.

Another crime-fighter said that the syndicate comprising Pakistani nationals also targets its countrymen who left their country. He further claims militias from Africa are part of the syndicates, the underworld are the middlemen and that some police officers are in cahoots with the kidnappers.

According to him, the role of the underworld is to make sure, with the help of corrupt police officers, that investigators don’t get to the bottom of the kidnapping.

Since 2016, several city business people were kidnapped. There has been no indication from police if there were any arrests or convictions.

Asked about this, Traut said the query was forwarded to the provincial detectives and once they responded, police would be able to comment.

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