Durban - A group of seven Nigerian men, who are alleged to be part of a kidnapping for ransom syndicate, will remain behind bars after they were denied bail in the Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court on Monday.
Promise Ogomegbulem, 30, Collins Anthony, 36, Mosa Airiagbonkpa, 34, Jonathan Musa, 32, John Freedom Agim ,31, Eze Ajude, 34, and Elisho Odiaka, 33, were arrested in Rembrandt Park on March 29.
The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) said they were arrested after a victim’s brother alerted police about his kidnapping.
The seven accused face charges of kidnapping, theft, assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm and illegal possession of firearms and ammunition.
NPA spokesperson Phindi Mjonondwane said that on March 28, 2023, the complainant was picked up in Sandton by two men who had identified themselves as police officers from the SAPS in Sandton.
“He was notified that they have been sent by Galaxy, a guy he is familiar with. Without any hesitation, he went with them to where Galaxy was. Upon arrival, the two officers disappeared, Galaxy started to demand money from him, without giving him any reason, and the complainant was reluctant.
“Eight men appeared and forcefully put him inside their vehicle and drove to Rembrandt Park, where he was assaulted with open hands and the butt of a firearm, whilst further demands for money were made. The complainant did not have any money to give to the accused.
“He was forced to contact his family members or friends to get money. The complainant managed to transfer $2 000 (R36 700) from his wife’s Bitcoin account to the number they gave him.
“The accused demanded more money and gave him a phone to make more calls to arrange for the money. It is during this period that he got an opportunity to send his brother to the location without the accused noticing his act.
“When the complainant’s brother received the text message of the location, a SAPS van appeared that was patrolling the area. He approached them and reported the matter to them. He also showed them the text he had received. The police officers drove straight to the location and upon arrival, they found eight men. One of the men told them he had been kidnapped.
Mjonondwane said the police found Ogomegbulem and Collins with loaded firearms.
“During their application to be released on bail, all the accused claimed that the complainant was known to them and that he owed money to their friend ‘Blacky’ and was now trying to use the law to escape his obligation to pay him.”
Mjonondwane said that during court proceedings, State prosecutor Penwell Mhaga had argued that if it were true that the complainant owed them money, they could have taken the legal route to recoup their finances, rather than taking the law into their own hands.
“He further added that the accused are likely to intimidate the complainant or interfere with the proper administration of justice if released on bail.”