The Hawks were still searching for four suspects, who allegedly kidnapped, robbed and extorted several thousand rand from a Kuruman man forcing him to withdraw money from his Nedbank account. Picture: Soraya Crowie
Kimberley – The Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (Hawks) was on Sunday still searching for four suspects who allegedly kidnapped, robbed and extorted several thousand rand from a Kuruman man on the weekend.

The 59-year-old victim, who has not been identified, was apparently kidnapped in Christiana on Thursday evening, while waiting in his vehicle for a friend.

Four suspects apparently kidnapped the man and robbed him, whereafter they forced him to withdraw money from his bank account at an ATM.

The suspects apparently held the man overnight and travelled with him in his vehicle to Kimberley on Friday morning, where he was forced to request “huge amounts” of money from his account at the Nedbank North Cape Mall branch, while the suspects waited outside.

Kevin De Beer, Nedbank provincial general manager for the Free State and Northern Cape, on Sunday confirmed the incident, but said that while the client was calm, “an alert employee, who viewed the matter with suspicion due to the large amount being requested as a cash withdrawal, refused to process the request, asking the client to put in place a prior notice as is the norm with large withdrawal requests”.

The suspects then forced the man to go to the Nedbank New Park branch, where he was “rescued” by police at around 11:30 am, while the suspects fled the scene, according to Hawks spokesperson, captain Philani Nkwalase.

Nkwalase said that police were informed about the kidnapping by the victim’s brother, who was contacted by the victim using a second cellphone he had hidden in his car.

“The suspects had no knowledge of the extra phone as they took all other phones and valuables in his possession,” Nkwalase said.

He added that while the victim’s bank card was blocked, so as to prevent additional withdrawals from an ATM, a “multidisciplinary team that included the Hawks and a provincial detectives task team ensured the successful rescue of the victim, while the suspects fled the scene”.

Nkwalase said that the Hawks were now investigating charges of kidnapping, extortion and robbery following the incident.

De Beer added that a Nedbank staff member took steps to act in the client’s interest when she noticed police and a large crowd outside the bank.

“The client’s account was blocked/restricted to prevent any loss to the client. Police were at the Nedbank Kimberley branch when the client arrived. Our client service team leader, Louise Booysen, acted with the necessary due care by informing our risk department of the suspicious behaviour of the client and the accompanying individual and also through blocking/restricting the client’s accounts to ensure that there was no access to them fraudulently or under duress,” De Beer stated.

Nkwalase concluded by saying that the incident was not related to an earlier kidnapping, where Correctional Services Deputy Minister Thabang Makwetla was hijacked last Sunday in Fourways, Johannesburg and also forced to make withdrawals at several ATMs.

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