Durban – Hamza Khan, a Gauteng businessman, was kidnapped on Friday by two men allegedly posing as policemen.
The kidnappers, dressed in white, confronted Khan, 30, outside his family’s butchery in Fordsburg at about 9.30am.
The incident was captured on CCTV and shared on social media by Yusuf Abramjee, an anti- crime activist. Khan was removed from his vehicle and into an awaiting car.
Abramjee said the suspects were allegedly posing as policemen, a method used in other cases where businessmen were kidnapped.
He said in previous incidents in Fordsburg and Mayfair, the suspects informed the victims that they were under arrest. The victims did not resist.
Abramjee did not disclose if the suspects had contacted Khan’s family for a ransom.
He said several businessmen had been kidnapped over the past two years.
“These were often done by international syndicates. They are skilled and organised and demand large ransoms that usually need to be paid into a foreign bank account.”
Abramjee said he believed, however, that the recent spate of incidents was done by a copycat syndicate.
“This seems to be a copycat syndicate by smaller gangs who are dangerous. They are probably trying to make a quick buck.
“But these gangs seem to know who they are targeting. They go for businessmen, specifically of Indian origin, as well as Pakistani, Ethiopian and Somalia nationals. They see them possibly as soft targets.”
He said in four recent cases, the victims were returned to their families. In two of them, ransoms were paid.
An Ethiopian businessman, who was kidnapped late last year, was killed.
Abramjee said another Ethiopian businessman, who was kidnapped in January, was missing.
Last month, businessman Mohammed Azeem Amod, 45, was released a week after he was kidnapped from his family’s restaurant in Norwood.
“The latest wave has caused a lot of fear and panic among sections of the community. These cases need to be escalated to the Hawks.
“The business community must take a stand and put pressure on the government to take this seriously. I hope the police will be able to break the backbone of these small syndicates.”
On Monday, Solly Suleman, the president of the Minara Chamber of Commerce, wrote to the Presidency to intervene.
In the letter, he called the kidnapping of businessmen, their families as well as of children a pandemic.
“Where is the intel on the ground?… What measures are taken to prevent this disease which will get worse if not addressed now. We urge the government to take this crime seriously in order to prevent the type of damage to the economy as has been the case in neighbouring countries.”
Khan’s family declined to comment.
Captain Mavela Masondo, a provincial police spokesperson in Gauteng, said they were given a directive not to comment on kidnapping cases because it would endanger the lives of the victims.
“Once the victim has been found, we will put out a statement.”