Two foreign nationals, aged 24 and 26, are on Wednesday expected to appear in the Vaalbank Magistrate’s Court after they were arrested for robbery and kidnapping a shopkeeper in Mpumalanga.
In the incident which took place on Sunday, the two assailants allegedly abducted and took away the shopkeeper, after violently breaking into a tuck shop, the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (also known as the Hawks) said.
“They were arrested by the Hawks Middelburg-based serious organised crime investigation (unit) together with Mmametlhake crime investigation services, KwaMhlanga and Themba crime intelligence for house robbery and kidnapping which took place on Sunday, January 14, at about 2am at Mmamethlake policing area,” said Hawks spokesperson, Captain Dineo Lucy Sekgotodi.
“It is alleged that on the above-mentioned date and time, the suspects went to Bissy tuck shop where they broke a wall and gained entry. The suspects robbed the stock of an estimated amount of R2,000.”
After ransacking the business premises, the intruders later kidnapped the shopkeeper.
Later, the owner of the property where the tuck shop is situated noticed the incident and contacted the business owner - Mahammed Mosharraf, a Bangladeshi citizen, residing at Makau section of Mmametlhake.
“Mr Mosharraf came to the tuck shop, and on arrival he found stock scattered all over the floor and the shopkeeper missing. He tried to call the victim’s phone which was ringing, but no response,” said Sekgotodi.
Mosharraf then reported the matter to the police and a case docket was opened.
Later, Mosharraf received a call from an unknown person demanding R50,000 ransom from him so that the shopkeeper could be released.
“The suspects kept on calling with different cell phone numbers. They reduced the demand to R20,000,” said Sekgotodi.
Different police units, including detectives and the Middelburg Serious Organised Crime Investigation were summoned to the crime scene.
“Information was followed which led the team to Hammanskraal. The team negotiated for a drop-off and the suspects agreed on a spot. The (police) team used the complainant (Mosharraf) to negotiate a delivery plan,” said Sekgotodi.
“After the money was dropped, the suspect tried to collect the money when he was arrested. The other two evaded arrest.”
The Hawks said the arrested suspect led the law enforcement team to a house in Hammanskraal, Gauteng, where another person was found with the kidnapped shopkeeper and was promptly arrested.
The R20,000 ransom money was recovered and two people linked to the robbery and kidnapping were arrested.
“The team is still tracing the other two suspects. The duo are in custody,” said Sekgotodi.
Last year, IOL reported that the South African Police Service (SAPS) highlighted a spike in kidnapping cases, with almost 4,000 people kidnapped between July and September.