Manhunt underway for Moti brothers’ kidnappers as two Johannesburg businessmen abducted

By Kashiefa Ajam, Sameer Naik Time of article published Oct 23, 2021

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Johannesburg - While police have launched a manhunt for the kidnappers of the sons of Polokwane businessman Nazim Moti and his wife Shakira yesterday, there were reports that two other Johannesburg businessmen had also been kidnapped.

On Wednesday morning Zidan 6, Zayyad, 11, Alaan, 13, and Zia, 15, were abducted by seven armed men dressed in white overalls while on their way to Curro Heuwelkruin school.

The Motis' driver and his silver BMW have since been found.

Social media was abuzz with news that a Chinese national had been kidnapped by an armed gang with AK 47s in Camaro Street in Bassonia yesterday.

And on Wednesday, businessman and builder Hussain Ahmed Essack was reportedly kidnapped in Roma Street, Robertsham, by three men in a red Toyota Corolla.

Businessman and builder Hussain Ahmed Essack. Supplied image.

Police could not confirm the two incidents.

By late yesterday, police had no updates on the whereabouts of the Moti boys.

Preliminary investigations revealed that the children were forcefully removed from their scholar transport by armed suspects.

The 64-year-old driver allegedly fetched the children from Nirvana, where they live, and was driving along the R37 road, near the N1 bypass, when he was blocked by two vehicles – a white Kia Sorento and black Mercedes Benz.

Seven suspects alighted from the two vehicles and started firing shots randomly.

The suspects then forced the children out of the vehicle into their Mercedez-Benz and then drove off towards the direction of the R81 road, leaving the distraught driver on the scene.

Police later recovered the childrens' cellphones which were dumped at Flora Park.

Although police said the motive for the incident was unknown, private investigator Mike Bolhuis said it was likely for money.

“This kind of kidnapping is not because there is a dispute among families, this is for money. If they haven’t already, they most certainly will contact the family soon with a ransom amount,” he said.

Bolhuis said the kidnappers were highly sophisticated.

“You need intelligence and information and kidnappings like these need to be well planned. They have studied this family, their exact movements.”

Bolhuis said it was unlikely that the kidnappers would harm the children.

“In most cases, they don’t harm the victims because they have the most valuable thing on earth that the family possesses and that’s their loved ones and they want their money.

“It doesn’t mean that it doesn’t ever happen though. We have had cases where the victims have been beaten.

“If the kidnappers have to go to such extents, it’s most likely because the family refuses to pay up and also if they are sure they cannot be tracked and traced.”

He said he could not imagine what the kids were going through, adding that they were most likely traumatised and terrified.

“These kids are terrified. They will give them food and shelter but it would probably be the bare minimum. Their main aim is not the kids, but that the family members get the money together.”

Bolhuis said they expected the kidnappers to demand a large sum of money for the release of children.

“Many times the kidnappers have inside information, so they don’t make stupid decisions and ask for silly money that the family can’t afford.

“Obviously, as a nation, we all want the kids back safely, but the criminals might be enriched as a result.”

Last month 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 on September 11 after kidnappers held him for a week.

The latest crime statistics showed there was an increase of 186.6% in kidnappings in Gauteng between April and June this year, compared with the same period last year.

From April to June this year there were 809 kidnappings.

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

“This has always been the problem with kidnapping; it only gets into the record 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,” said Ewi.

To combat the rising numbers of kidnappings, Ewi said, the police should establish a special task team to deal with the crime.

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

Ewi added that police should assess which communities were vulnerable to kidnapping, establish good relations with them to 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.

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