Alleged kidnappers under guard

2015-02-13 00:00

HEAVILY armed policemen yesterday guarded seven men charged with kidnapping a businessman for ­ransom following “information” they could be planning an escape.

The men are appearing before ­regional magistrate Bhekizitha ­Phoswa on charges of kidnapping, ­extortion and assault.

The case relates to the 2013 kidnapping of Underberg businessman Mohsin Patel, whose captors allegedly demanded a R1 million ransom.

He was held captive in chains for 22 days before he was found in a house at the South Coast and freed by investigators.

Only two of the accused — Pietermaritzburg policeman Jashandra ­Supal and Nhlanhla Mkhize — are out on bail.

The others — Pakistani nationals Nadeem Akhder, Khalit Amin, Asif Seem Cheema (also known as Naseem Cheema), Sikander Akurter, and Nasir Ali — are awaiting trial in jail.

The trial was due to start in January but the court was told Akhder was sick in prison and did not come to court. He thereafter fired his attorney and said he wanted to appoint a new one. Yesterday the court was told the attorney had not been paid and was asked to again postpone the case to finalise the matter.

Another issue concerned the ­availability of interpreters who can speak the three languages of the accused — Gujarati, Urdu and Punjabi.

Phoswa told the accused he was puzzled by what “seems to be dilly dallying and delaying tactics” by them because they had been in ­custody since 2013.

Phoswa also asked state prosecutor Ricky van Wyk if the prosecution had informed the defence counsel about allegations that the accused were planning to escape.

Van Wyk said he didn’t know ­anything “other than that there is ­information about a plan”.

The case was adjourned to February 23 to finalise the issues about legal representation and interpreters.

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