Hawks take over Kariega kidnapping case of businessman’s wife

Sonam Gajjar was last seen on Wednesday outside her home in Kariega.

Sonam Gajjar was last seen on Wednesday outside her home in Kariega.

Published Mar 16, 2024


The Kariega community remains on high alert following the kidnapping of Sonam Gajjar, the wife of a prominent local businessman, on Wednesday, while the Hawks have taken over the investigation.

According to police, Gajjar drove out of her yard in Mosel Road in Kariega and while waiting for the gate to close behind her, was accosted by four males.

Eastern Cape police spokesperson Priscilla Naidu said Gajjar’s driver’s side window was smashed and she was dragged out of her car and shoved into a waiting white Hyundai. The vehicle sped off in the direction of Motherwell.

Provincial Hawks spokesperson Yolisa Mgolodela said on Thursday that Gajjar was still missing and the matter was under investigation.

Just last month the Hawks’ Kidnapping Task Team arrested a suspect in Kariega believed to be the “mastermind” behind a separate incident in Cookhouse, Eastern Cape.

His alleged accomplices, Sinethemba Dyantyi, 31, Vuyolwethu Kotsele, 34, and Mazen Nassar, 23, had since been arrested and appeared before the Cookhouse Magistrate’s Court on November 10 for kidnapping.

The latest incident also follows the kidnapping of another businessman in Nelson Mandela Bay, 58-year-old Neal Ah-Tow, who was abducted on March 1 outside his fishery in Sidwell.

It is alleged that at about 7.15am, five armed males kidnapped him as he was about to open the store. He was shoved into a silver Chevrolet Cruze vehicle which sped off.

Ward councillor Roelf Basson said the incidents had rocked the community, who were both shocked and concerned.

“There is a general concern about the safety of people, especially our business fraternity, as this is a high-profile family and it took place in the centre of town early in the morning, very brazenly. People are quite astonished, they couldn’t believe this happened in a small town.

A lot of prayers are going out for her to return safely. Law enforcement, police and the security fraternity were there in no time. They play an important role, together with neighbourhood watches they are also going to increase patrols and alertness,” he said.

Crime activist Hanif Loonat said kidnappings were on the increase across the country but people remained silent.

“They hit affluent people, they get information, they know where the person deposits money, they know the person’s bank balance. We need to ask what are the causes of these kidnappings? Why are there few arrests? It is a very dirty game; kidnappers build relationships with key stakeholders, there are many players involved directly and indirectly, who benefit. For example, many also pretend to be crime fighters but use it as a niche opportunity to make money, they provide security.

Unfortunately, families also find themselves in a catch-22, so they don’t always report the cases, they just pay, enabling in silence the continuation (of these crimes),” he said.

Loonat, who was previously helping families in tracking down victims in similar cases, said he had to walk away because of the risks involved.

Anyone with information on the incident can anonymously contact Crime Stop on 08600 10111, or SMS Crime Line on 32211.

Cape Times