Fear mounts in Soweto after teenager’s kidnap ordeal
Johannesburg - Siphelele Magudulele from Protea North, Soweto this week became a victim of an alleged kidnapping ring that has residents in and around Joburg’s southern suburbs living in fear for the safety of their children.
The 18-year-old was allegedly accosted by two males at around 3pm on Tuesday, said to be in their late 20s or early 30s.
While all this was happening, the third man sat in the driver’s seat.
The one pointing a gun ordered him to get into a white Toyota Tazz.
When Siphelele refused, he was given an ultimatum to either comply or die on the spot.The pupil was on his way to Protea Glen mall to buy outstanding school stationery.
His sister Zama Magudulele said she was shocked and surprised when she received a phone call at about 4pm during which her little brother was crying on the other end.
“I was confused as to what was happening because he had just left the house. He cried saying, ‘Zama please help me, they have taken me. I don’t know where I am, it’s dark’.
“In my panicked state, I asked questions about his whereabouts and what was going on. That is when Siphelele told me he was kidnapped and the criminals wanted money,” she said.
The kidnappers demanded that R5 000 be paid into the card that Siphelele had with him and gave her a deadline of a few hours.
“They introduced themselves as human traffickers and that if we didn’t pay the money by the end of the day, they would sell my brother to a willing buyer,” she has alleged.
“The guy who was demanding money over the phone had a heavy isiZulu accent, was rough in his speech and threw continuous threats.
“The kidnappers kept calling me from different phones, sending pictures and videos as proof of life.
“Around 6pm, they told me I only had 10 minutes to deposit the money or else we will never see Siphelele again. After prayer at around 9pm, a call came through from Siphelele who was running and screaming, asking for help. He and another victim, who could have been in his 30s, managed to escape and were running in between shacks in Devland.”
The two managed to make their way to a nearby eatery where they waited until they got help.
A traumatised Siphelele said the shack he was kept in had only a bed and a table full of cellphones that he reckons were all stolen.
“I found the other guy there already and he was badly beaten. We got the chance to run out when they were bringing in another young-looking guy who was fighting them. They left the door open trying to restrain the guy and that is when we ran out. There were about six of them in total coming in and out at intervals,” he said.
On Tuesday morning, *Mpumi Mkhize, 22, almost fell victim to a kidnapping incident when she left home for work in Meredale at about 7.45am when she noticed a suspicious blue Toyota Tazz driving down and then stopping next to the road.
“I noticed a Tazz across me as I was approaching a T-junction and it stopped behind a school kid.
“As it stopped, I also stopped and I noticed there were four guys in the car. One of them was wearing a black jacket with some red print on the collar. He’s the one I made the most eye contact with,” she said.
Mpumi said the vehicle had no registration plates and it parked on the side.
“I decided to walk slowly but take notice of this car. It then made a U-turn and drove towards me.
“As it was coming closer to me, it slowed down. I instantly made the decision to run and jump over the wall of one of our neighbours, luckily there were no dogs there.
“The car then drove off.” Mpumi believes the men were after the kid, and not necessarily her.
“They only changed their mind when they saw me.
“If there wasn’t anyone else on the street, they would’ve snatched him.
“They certainly did not look like they were lost. They looked like people who were up to no good,” she said.
A 25-year-old woman whose name is also being withheld at her request from Mondeor said she was walking down Columbine on Friday afternoon when two men walked up to her asking for the nearest mall.
“I told them the next mall closest to us is The Glen as it is about 15 minutes away from Southgate.
They then said they were looking for the Mukuru Money transfer services, and I suggested they go to The Glen. It sounded as though they wanted me to be comfortable with them first, in order to offer “help”.
“These two men then said they needed me to come with them as a third party for the money transfer.
“They continued to say I would help them with their money transfer and they would pay me.”
She said she ended the conversation with the men quickly as she carried on walking briskly when she felt that something wasn’t quite right.
“Something just did not feel right – two strangers asking me to accompany them to transfer money through Mukuru?
“No, something was fishy. I walked straight home,” she said. Rapelang Polwano from Protea North said she recently heard from social media of a syndicate kidnapping people for ransom.
Calls and questions sent to the police from Thursday remained unanswered at the time of going to print.
The Sunday Independent