Members of the LGBTQI community around Johannesburg face a new danger as kidnapping, theft and fraud ensues.
The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) this week welcomed the Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court’s decision to deny bail to the seven men accused of kidnapping a Wits student.
The seven men were denied bail on Wednesday. Sanele Ndlovu, Vikani Khanyeza, Sehollo Khumalo, Sphamandla Mavundla, Lungisani Tshabalala, Thulani Mazibuko and Khayelihle Zulu are facing charges of kidnapping, extortion and attempted murder.
These men allegedly lured an 18-year-old student through Grindr, an LGBTQI online dating platform.
The suspects allegedly demanded a R30 000 ransom from his family for his safe return.
Several gay persons have claimed that the syndicate runs throughout the country, particularly in Johannesburg and Cape Town.
Sydney Van Wyk told Saturday Star that while he was on the app he met a ‘decent’ man called Teddy. Teddy invited him to dinner in Hyde Park where they chatted about politics and humanities.
“He was really smart and and continued to invite him to a club in Joburg. On the second date I agreed, it seems like that was the day of the operation” Van Wyk said.
Van Wyk said after a few drinks at the club he suddenly became very sleepy only to wake up in a warehouse with Teddy standing in front of him. Van Wyk says Teddy told him to call his family members and instruct them to send R50 000 or they would kill him. Van Wyk said that only released when his older brother finally sent the money.
On the matter of the Wits student, the NPA said once the investigations are concluded, they will disclose the contents of the docket to the defence team and prepare for the trial.
During their bail application, acting regional court prosecutor Adolphus Mukwevho argued that the State witnesses were known to the accused, and the family of the complainant previously received threats from the accused and were living in fear.
In denying them bail, Mukwevho indicated that it was risky and would not be in the interest of justice to grant them bail as it would be difficult to monitor the accused if they were given bail.
It was also revealed that the addresses given by the accused could not be relied upon as they had never resided at the addresses.
The suspects are alleged to have also sent nude pictures and videos of the student, who was bruised and tied up, to his family when demanding ransom and the student’s father was asked to deposit money through an e-wallet.
Police monitored the cellphone number and a breakthrough came when an ATM was identified where one suspect had wanted to withdraw the ransom money on the M2.
He was arrested and led the police to Denver Men’s Hostel, where he agreed to show officers where the victim was being held captive. This led to the student’s rescue.
The case was postponed to November 15 for further investigations.