Kidnap victim rescued

2014-07-07 00:00

A 24-YEAR-OLD Pietermaritzburg man who was kidnapped in June has been rescued in Gauteng, after two weeks of being starved, left to freeze — and allowed to do nothing but watch the Fifa World Cup.

And, in an exclusive interview, hostage Jashin Uddin has told The Witness of his hellish 13 days of captivity, after he was snatched from his superette in Raisethorpe, Pietermaritzburg, in the early hours of June 22.

Uddin said he was rescued from a house in Kempton Park in bizarre circumstances on Friday night, when one of his captors rushed him out of a window and hid together with him under a vagrant’s blanket — claiming that they were both being pursued by other kidnappers. And, in a final twist, Uddin only realized he was being rescued when he heard the voice of his brother, who had helped Gauteng police to trace the kidnappers’ lair.

The drama began on Sunday morning, June 22, when four men entered the store he co-owns with family members in Old Greytown Road.

His cousin, Beleyet Hoosen, said: “They tied my hands behind me and put packing tape around my mouth and told me to lead them to Uddin, who was asleep at the back of the shop. One of them, armed with a gun, poked Uddin with the barrel of the gun and demanded money. Uddin told them where the money was — R20 000 in cash; they took all our cellphones; R12 000 worth of cigarettes and R8 000 worth of airtime. When Uddin got up one man held the gun to his head while the other poured some liquid into his mouth, and he passed out. They blindfolded him with a black cloth and took him away.”

Yesterday, Uddin said he had no memory of the trip to Gauteng, where he was held in the same room for 13 days.

He said he was kept at an “old house” — constantly under guard by four people — “two Bangladeshi and two Pakistani nationals”.

Uddin said his captors demanded almost R1 million in ransom from his Bangladesh-based family.

“I was mostly kept handcuffed and given two slices of brown bread and a glass of water once every three days. I was slapped, kicked and booted around. They did not even give me a blanket — I was so cold; unbelievably cold.”

He said his captors finally removed his blindfold so he could join them in watching World Cup football matches.

Uddin said he was only allowed to leave the house in order to make ransom calls from the kidnappers’ car.

“I was made to lie in the back seat of a car — with my hands handcuffed behind me — and make the calls with my captors holding the phone, to my family in Bangladesh. They were demanding that they pay a ransom [of almost R1 million] or they will kill me.”

Meanwhile, his brother, Zahirul Islam, was mounting a private search in parallel with investigations by Pietermaritzburg SAPS — who arrested and later released one man suspected of being involved. Islam said: “I received information from some people in Kempton Park that my brother was being held there; I followed up with the information and enlisted the help of the Kempton Park police who came to my aid.”

Of the night of the rescue, Uddin recalled: “On Friday night around 10.30 pm I was alone with one of my captors when there was a loud knock on the door. My captor told me that there was another group that wanted to kidnap both of us and that we should escape by jumping through an open window. We went past a house and then came to a big field. Here there was a man with a blanket. My captor asked him to let us hide under it. I heard my brother call out my name and immediately jumped out from under the blanket, and it was then that I noticed the place was swarming with police and I knew help had arrived.”

The Witness understands that a man has been arrested and is expected to appear in the Pietermaritzburg Magistrate’s Court soon.

Islam said: “We can only thank the Almighty Allah that no harm had come to my brother for the 13 days [but] I am thankful to the Bangladeshi community in Pietermaritzburg for rallying around me in these hours of darkness.”

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