Seven in court for 419 kidnap

2008-09-30 17:28

Johannesburg - Five Nigerian men, a Nigerian woman and a South African man appeared in the Johannesburg Magistrate's Court on Tuesday after allegedly kidnapping a Japanese man and holding him for ransom.

The seven were charged with two counts of robbery, two of kidnapping, extortion and indecent assault.

Magistrate Simon Radasi postponed the case to October 7, for some of the accused to find lawyers. All seven, who are aged between 28 and 34, would stay in custody.

They were arrested on Sunday morning after allegedly kidnapping a Japanese businessman who fell for a so-called 419 scam.

They allegedly lured Osamai Hitomi, 47, into the country by claiming that he would be part of an investment opportunity with a company called Jeffdon Properties.

When he arrived in the country on Friday he was kidnapped and taken to a house in Alberton. His family was contacted and a ransom of $5m was demanded.

The police were alerted and members of the Johannesburg organised crime unit, the Gauteng crime management centre and the head office crime intelligence division found the victim and arrested the seven.

The 419 scam got its name from a section in Nigerian law which criminalised getting people to pay an advance fee, in return for a cut of a large sum of non-existent money they would help move.

- SAPA

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