Two foreign nationals, aged 24 and 26, are scheduled to make their court appearance today in the Vaalbank Magistrate’s Court. Their arrest followed a violent incident that transpired in Mpumalanga over the weekend, involving robbery and the abduction of a shopkeeper.
In the early hours of Sunday, these two assailants forcibly entered a tuck shop, before abducting the shopkeeper, according to the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation, known as the Hawks.
Captain Dineo Lucy Sekgotodi, the spokesperson for the Hawks, reported, “They were arrested by the Hawks Middelburg-based serious organised crime investigation (unit) together with Mmametlhake crime investigation services, KwaMhlanga and Themba crime intelligence for house robbery and kidnapping which took place on Sunday, January 14, at about 2am at Mmamethlake policing area.”
The suspects allegedly targeted Bissy tuck shop during the incident, gaining access by breaking through a wall. Once inside, they robbed the shop of an estimated R2,000 worth of stock.
Following the robbery, the perpetrators proceeded to kidnap the shopkeeper. The incident came to light when the property owner, where the tuck shop is located, became aware of the situation and contacted the shop’s owner, Mahammed Mosharraf, a Bangladeshi citizen residing in the Makau section of Mmametlhake.
Sekgotodi explained, “Mr. Mosharraf came to the tuck shop, and on arrival, he found stock scattered all over the floor and the shopkeeper missing. He tried to call the victim’s phone which was ringing, but no response.”
Subsequently, Mosharraf reported the matter to the police, resulting in the opening of a case docket.
Shortly afterward, Mosharraf received a call from an unidentified individual who demanded a ransom of R50,000 for the release of the shopkeeper. Sekgotodi stated, “The suspects kept on calling with different cell phone numbers. They reduced the demand to R20,000.”
Law enforcement agencies, including detectives and the Middelburg Serious Organised Crime Investigation unit, were alerted and dispatched to the crime scene.
Sekgotodi detailed, “Information was followed which led the team to Hammanskraal. The team negotiated for a drop-off, and the suspects agreed on a spot. The (police) team used the complainant (Mosharraf) to negotiate a delivery plan.”
After the ransom money was dropped off, one of the suspects attempted to retrieve the funds and was subsequently apprehended by the police, while the other two managed to escape.
The Hawks disclosed that the arrested suspect cooperated with the authorities, leading them to a house in Hammanskraal, Gauteng, where another person was found in possession of the kidnapped shopkeeper and was swiftly taken into custody.
The R20,000 ransom money was recovered during the operation, and two individuals allegedly connected to the robbery and kidnapping are currently in custody. Authorities are actively pursuing the remaining two suspects.
The South African Police Service (SAPS) has noted a surge in kidnapping cases, with almost 4,000 reported incidents occurring between July and September.
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