Last year there were 282 kidnappings, although the so-called “crime holiday” brought on by the Covid-19 lockdown may have lowered numbers. Picture Gary Van Wyk/Reporter Henry Du Plessis.
Last year there were 282 kidnappings, although the so-called “crime holiday” brought on by the Covid-19 lockdown may have lowered numbers. Picture Gary Van Wyk/Reporter Henry Du Plessis.

Kidnapped shop employee returns home unharmed as abductions spike in Gauteng

By Shaun Smillie Time of article published Sep 18, 2021

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Johannesburg - An employee at a butchery and vegetable shop, in Rosettenville, was returned to his family unharmed, after his kidnappers got away with a ransom payment.

Joao Avilino J Marqal Francisco ll ze Lemmer was released last Saturday, after kidnappers held him for a week.

A family member said he was unharmed, but was not talking about the experience. Police have not commented on the incident.

This latest abduction comes as Gauteng has experienced a sharp rise in kidnappings over the last year.

The latest crime statistics for the period of April to June this year, compared to the same period last year, showed that there had been an increase of 186.6% in kidnappings in Gauteng. From April to June this year, there were 809 kidnappings.

Last year, over the same period, there were 282 kidnappings, although the so-called “crime holiday” brought on by the Covid-19 lockdown may have lowered numbers.

The Rosettenville incident happened shortly after the employee left work from the butchery and vegetable shop, on Main Street, at 7pm.

Not far from the shop, a car stopped his truck, and the occupants then smashed the window and abducted him.

His family was contacted and a ransom was demanded. After negotiations, he was released. It is understood that a ransom was paid, but there were no arrests made. The amount paid has not been revealed.

Senior researcher at the Institute for Security Studies Martin Ewi said that the number of kidnappings that occurred in the country was under-reported.

“This has always been the problem with kidnapping, it only gets recorded when it is reported. Often they kidnap you, tell your family not to talk to the police, and the family ends up not talking to the police,” says Ewi.

To combat the rising numbers of kidnappings, Ewi said the police should establish a special task team to deal with the crime. He said that, often, the police who deal with kidnappings are not properly trained.

“We've seen instances where the family involved the police, the police didn't even know how to act, and the family member was killed,” he says.

Ewi added that police should assess which communities are vulnerable to kidnapping, establish good relations with them, and be able to respond quickly when an incident happens.

He also said that there needed to be harsher penalties for kidnappers and those who supported them.

For a straight kidnapping charge, a kidnapper can get 15 years.

This week, however, police did have success in rescuing a kidnap victim in the North West.

The 30-year-old Gauteng woman was released unharmed, when police raided a shack in Kgabaletsane, near Klipgat.

On Tuesday, three men posing as policemen allegedly kidnapped the woman from her home in Atteridgeville, Gauteng. Her kidnappers contacted her brother and demanded a ransom.

A team – that comprised detectives, tactical response units, and hostage negotiators – was able to locate where the woman was being held.

Just after midnight, on Wednesday, police found the woman and arrested a 27-year-old male suspect.

Police are currently hunting the other suspects linked to the incident.

The Saturday Star

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