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Moti brothers’ kidnapping: Technological limitations for police in search amid continuing prayers

Zidan, 6, Zayyad, 11, Alaan, 13, and Zia Moti, 15. Picture: Supplied

Zidan, 6, Zayyad, 11, Alaan, 13, and Zia Moti, 15. Picture: Supplied

Published Oct 27, 2021


Cape Town – It has been a week since the four Moti brothers were kidnapped while being driven to school in Polokwane, Limpopo.

While Police Minister Bheki Cele claimed this week that SAPS, which is experiencing a leadership crisis and hampered by technological limitations, have made ’’progress’’, prayer still currently seems the best hope of ensuring the sons of Nirvana residents Nizan and Shakira Moti are returned safely.

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“It’s a difficult case, but no doubt we have made progress. There are follow-ups on matters. Up to this point, we are hopeful that the police will crack the case,” Cele said.

Amid several calls to prayer in the last few days for the Moti brothers – Zidan, 6, Zayyad, 11, Alaan, 13, and Zia, 15 – Nirvana community leader Solly Hassan has asked the public to join the Muslim community in their prayers for their safe return, the Polokwane Review reported.

“We fast to pray to Allah to be merciful and also ask that the Lord Almighty ensures the safe return the children,” Hassan said.

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Last night, at a Zoom meeting, the Hindu community recited the Hanuman Chalisa, a Hindu devotional hymn, for half an hour to plead for the safe return of the Moti brothers, which will be repeated tomorrow and on Saturday. All religious groups are encouraged to continue their prayers for the boys, who were kidnapped by seven armed men, with the driver being left behind unharmed.

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Commenting on a surge in kidnappings in South Africa – according to the Institute for Security Studies, there has been a 130% increase in the number of kidnappings in the country between October 2011 and March 2020 – Cape Talk presenter Mandy Wiener wrote on News24 that crime should be getting more attention and resources than is currently the case. Cele said on Monday many technological resources had been put in place from police headquarters to solve the Moti kidnapping, but the reality is their capabilities are limited.

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’’Crime Intelligence officers in the SAPS only have ’grabbers’, devices that can intercept or locate phones, with 2G or 3G. The grabbers that have 4G or 5G capacity are locked away as the cops wait for the cabinet to approve an exemption certificate that would allow these devices to be used,’’ Wiener wrote.

SAPS has spent more than R100 million on the spying devices, but its procurement is under investigation by the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Independent Police Investigating Directorate.

"Impeccable intelligence sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the police desperately needed the grabbers to combat priority crimes like cash-in-transit heists and high-profile kidnappings. Sources said the police only had three working grabbers, all outdated or on the brink of breakdown," News24 reported in June.

While the police have maintained there is nothing that suggests the motive being ransom-motivated, the Moti family’s lawyer, Philip Smit, has indicated otherwise. The wealthy Moti couple have remained mum on the case or a possible ransom demand for fear of putting their boys’ lives in danger.

“The less publicity, the less exposure or discussion or interviews conducted around this whole issue and progress would certainly be the best thing for the children because right now the focus should be on how best to protect these children.

’’The risks are far greater at the moment and we are aware that family are not talking and rightfully so, for various reasons, not only to protect their children,” Dr Shaheda Omar from The Teddy Bear Clinic told The South African.