10 in dock for kidnapping Cape Town businessman

  • Ten suspects are scheduled to appear in the Bellville Magistrate’s Court following the kidnapping of a 47-year-old man.
  • The man has since been rescued in Nyanga and reunited with his family.
  • According to the local CPF, kidnappings of foreign business people are on the increase.

Kidnappings of foreign business owners in Bellville, one of Cape Town’s business hubs, are on the up, the local Community Police Forum said on Monday.

And while the most recent incident saw the victim reunited with his family, there was a strong possibility that other instances were not even being reported, vice chairperson Jean Beukman told News24.

Ten suspects were scheduled to appear in the Bellville Magistrate’s Court on Monday following the kidnapping of the 47-year-old man on Thursday.

Police spokesperson Brigadier Novela Potelwa confirmed that a "special operation" was carried out by members of the national intervention unit, local detectives, crime intelligence and a hostage negotiation team after a foreign national was accosted by four armed suspects on Voortrekker Road at 09:50 that morning.

A "substantial amount" of cash as well as a cellphone was stolen before the man was kidnapped.

"Vital information led the forces to an address in Nyanga where the victim was rescued. Ten suspects between the ages of 20 and 30 were subsequently arrested. The victim has since been reunited with his family," Potelwa said.

Those involved in the operation have been praised by provincial police management as "efforts to fight the scourge of kidnappings and extortion intensify", she added.

Beukman said since last year, business people operating in the hub in the vicinity of Voortrekker and Durban roads were being targeted by kidnappers.

According to him, Bellville has the biggest Somali community in the Western Cape who operate about 90% of businesses in this area. Most run fast food businesses and wholesale stores which service buyers who purchase stock for smaller businesses.

He said he was aware of numerous kidnapping cases with the intention to extort taking place before the nationwide Covid-19 lockdown, but that incidents appear to be rising again.

And a number of these cases may not even be reported to the police, he believed.

Beukman added:

This could be related to people possibly not being in the country legally or problems with their paperwork. Others may simply be too scared.

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Community Safety MEC Albert Fritz urged anyone with information relating to organised crime, including extortion and business kidnappings, to report it to the police.

"Let this arrest serve as a reminder to anyone engaging in related illicit activity such as business-related kidnappings and extortion. You will be caught, and you will be prosecuted," he warned.

"I commend the various units involved in these arrests on their efforts to apprehend those involved and return the victim home to his family."

Bellville has been identified as a second CBD for Cape Town, with mayor Dan Plato earlier this month launching the Bellville Future City project aimed at focusing efforts to transform the area.

"We are establishing strategic forums to engage academic institutions, the business sector and civil society, which will assist our short, medium and long-term goals of revitalising the Bellville CBD," Plato said at the time.

According to the City of Cape Town, the business district has "remained resilient" despite the impact of Covid-19 on business and employment and was "well-placed to experience rejuvenation and growth".

Source: News24