Cape Town – It’s been a harrowing 48-hours for the family of a kidnapped foreign shopkeeper who paid a ransom of R100k for his release, only for police to rescue him after the snatchers demanded more money.
The 25-year-old Bangladeshi was snatched outside his store in Kalksteenfontein near Bishop Lavis on Wednesday. But swift joint police rescue mission resulted in the man being safely reunited with his family on Friday.
Police spokesperson Sergeant Wesley Twigg said four perpetrators were arrested and were expected to appear at Bishop Lavis Magistrate court on charges of kidnapping and extortion on Monday.
The victim’s brother, both of whom are not being named for their safety, spoke to Weekend Argus on Saturday shortly after the pair returned from the doctor to assess the victim.
In the background during a telephonic interview the victim could be heard agreeing with his 35-year-old sibling who expressed gratitude for his brother’s safe return.
“Yes, Shukran Allah ... Shukran Allah!” said the victim.
Police are in procession of footage of the kidnapping which the Weekend Argus has also obtained. In the video the victim is seen walking towards his car when an unknown assailant runs up to him and grabs him.
Brazen kidnappers snatch a Bangladeshi shopkeeper from outside his Cape Town store and demand his family pay R100k ransom. Full story in Weekend Argus Sunday pic.twitter.com/cqTai0rXD5— Weekend Argus (@WeekendArgus) January 9, 2022
Within seconds a white VW polo pulls up and more men jump out of the car. A struggle ensues. The kidnappers continue to beat him, and eventually they shove him in the car before speeding off while shocked onlookers stand by and watch.
His brother explained that shortly after his sibling was kidnapped he received a phone call from the kidnappers demanding a R300 000 ransom.
“I told them I don’t have that much money. But said I could bring R50 000 to them, all I want back is my brother,” he said.
“He then said no, he will settle for R100 000, and I agreed, because at that stage I didn't care about the money, just my brother's safety.”
The 35-year-old then arranged to meet the kidnappers at a drop off to exchange the money for his brother the following day, only to be sent on a wild goose chase.
“He first told me to meet him at the Caltex garage near the airport, so I drove there with the money. Then when I got there, he said I must drive down the N2 towards the R300, in the direction of Somerset.
“When I got to the bridge going to Mitchells Plain, he told me to throw the money out of the car and he would phone me again after 20 minutes to tell me where to find my brother.”
The man said he then waited and received the call as promised, but not with the news he wanted to hear.
“The kidnapper told me that there’s only R100 000 and they want R300 000. ’I said to them but that wasn't what we agreed on’, so they put down the phone.”
Meanwhile the police were working on the case after the owner of the property where the shop is based, notified them of the incident.
They used the victim’s brother’s cellphone to track the whereabouts of the perpetrators.
Bishop Lavis detectives, Provincial Crime Intelligence, Provincial Organised Crimes Unit and National Special Task Force Cape Town in a joint operation rescued the victim and arrested the kidnappers on Friday.
“My brother is safe and alive and that's all we are thankful for,” said the vicitm’s brother.
“They beat him and burnt plastic on his feet. We lost money but he's alive and that's what we wanted.”
The older brother said as foreign-national tuckshop owners, they have to look out for one another, especially because they were easy targets.
“We need to warn each other, so when these things happen we talk about it.”
The owner of the property said he was nearby when the kidnapping occurred.
“As I turned around, I saw these men with a gun forcing him (the victim) into the vehicle and I called 10111 immediately. That's the summary of what happened,” said the man who asked not to be identified.
“He (the victim) is a very soft spoken person. Absolutely no reason why this should have happened to him. What happened was really bizarre.”
Community activist Audrey Daniels described the incident as scary. She thought it was local residents fighting but realised later that it was the shop owner being kidnapped.
“I have a problem because there were three police vans, but there was no police visible in the area (before). I was worried about that,” she said.
“I work with our people everyday. This guy is a very stable, soft person.”
She said she was planning to mobilise residents to protest outside the Bhishop Lavis Magistrates court where the four suspects were due to appear.
“I think more needs to be done (protecting) foreign nationals because this was a big crime. I have been in Kalksteenfontein for over 50 years and this was for the first time happening here,” she said.
“There is a need for more police visibility in our area. And because it is for the first time I do not think it will be for the last time.”
Hafizul Raman, 26, who worked with the victim said he felt unsafe.
“In this country the police do not look out for us (foreigners). I am not safe because (even) the government does not care for us.”
A police source told Weekend Argus that they have noted a trend in the kidnapping of foreign businessmen and women at random.
Last year a number of kidnapping for ransom incidents were reported where mostly foreign-national business owners were targeted.
In November, a Chinese business woman in her 40s was snatched at a grocery store in Bellville-South, by five males who stormed the shop and forced her into a VW Polo.
In the previous month, five Ethiopians from Cape Town were among 11 others rescued from a warehouse in Soweto after they had reportedly been kidnapped in other parts of the country.