Dating app ‘kidnap trio’ face more charges

Three men accused of kidnapping made their second appearance in the Cape Town Magistrate’s Court.

Three men accused of kidnapping made their second appearance in the Cape Town Magistrate’s Court.

Published Jun 26, 2024


The three Gauteng men accused of using a dating app to lure a victim before he was held hostage in Woodstock are allegedly linked to two more cases in Cape Town.

Mlungisi Mbutu, Bongani Zulu, and Zwelakhe Ngwenya were arrested for kidnapping and extortion during the Youth Day long weekend after a top multi-disciplinary team, led by the Hawks and the Western Cape Organised Crime Unit, received information about a possible kidnapping.

This led them to a 50-year-old man who was found tied up in the main bedroom of the house the accused allegedly rented.

It is reported that they made contact with the victim through the Grindr app; however, Grindr did not respond to enquiries by deadline.

The suspects made their second appearance in the Cape Town Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday where the State informed the court that more charges had been added and the accused now faced three kidnapping, three extortion and three robbery charges.

There was also a possibility that more charges could be added.

“The matter was previously remanded for bail information and representation of the accused. Over the week that the matter was postponed, we received two more matters of kidnapping, extortion and robbery.

We have also been inundated with information where more victims seem to be coming forward as they see that an arrest has been made,” a legal representative for the State told the court.

It emerged that Mbutu had a clear record which he confirmed, while Zulu and Ngwenya had a pending kidnapping and extortion case.

According to Ngwenya the matter was in relation to an incident that happened in Sandton, Gauteng.

The State noted that it will oppose bail, saying the men were a flight risk, faced serious charges and there could be a public outcry should they be released.

The matter was postponed to July 3 for a formal bail application and a Zulu interpreter.

Outside court, authorities disclosed the additional charges the trio faced were in connection with two incidents involving Grindr that happened in the Cape Town city centre.

Triangle Project’s Ling Sheperd said they were deeply concerned about the reports of criminals using the app to lure individuals.

“These incidents highlight the importance of staying vigilant and prioritising safety within the LGBTQ+ community. We urge all users of dating apps to exercise caution and follow safety tips, including (to) verify profiles, meet in public, trust your instincts, keep personal information private and report suspicious activity,” said Sheperd.

Cape Times