Kids in kidnap terror

2018-05-22 16:00
Four arrested after demanding R2 million for kidnapped children.

Four arrested after demanding R2 million for kidnapped children. (File)

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The three Newcastle children who were kidnapped on Monday morning by armed men, were to be held ransom for R2 million before an exhaustive police search found the children safe in the Newcastle area.

Four men have been arrested in connection with the kidnapping.

Provincial police spokesperson Colonel Thembeka Mbhele said a joint operation by Newcastle FCS commander Captain Nagesh Moothilal, Newcastle K9 Unit and Madadeni Detectives led them to rescuing the children.

“The team went to a house in Inverness place, in Osizweni [Newcastle area] where three children were kept by the suspects.”

She said four men aged between 20 and 26 were arrested after they were found in possession of an unlicensed pistol. The three children aged between 6 and 11 years old, along with three other children, were being driven to Islamic College Newcastle when a vehicle with armed men approached the children's vehicle. 

School driver Arthur Phiri relayed his tale of terror to The Witness on Monday afternoon, saying the incident occurred at around 6.45 am.

“I was driving the car when I saw a man in a car at my window,” said Phiri.

“I slowed down, I did not want to stop but it looked like he needed help,” he said. “Then the man opened his door, and pointed a gun at me.”

At this stage Phiri had stopped the car and said the man with the gun jumped out of his car and pulled Phiri from the driver’s seat.

“He chased me around the car with the gun pointed at me. I was so scared. I thought he was going to shoot me.”

Phiri said while he was being chased, three children managed to escape from the vehicle, however, another man approached and pulled the three remaining children from Phiri’s car into the gunmen’s car.

“The children were crying. We went straight to the police,” he said.

Provincial police spokesperson Colonel Thembeka Mbhele said the incident occurred at Madadeni Section 7 and that a case of carjacking and kidnapping was being investigated by Madadeni police.

However, the three children’s father, Peter Jama, said his children were kidnapped for money.

When The Witness called Jama on Monday evening, he said his children had been found and he was on his way to the police station to fetch them.

“The men wanted a ransom of R2 million,” he said. “The whole day, I just didn’t know what to do. I just wanted my children to be okay. It was absolutely frightening.”

Jama said his children were found in a rural area of Newcastle. He said he was grateful to the police, who found his children “so quickly”, and thanked them for bringing them home safely.

Earlier this month alleged gang members kidnapped a teenaged boy in Dundee and held him for ransom for two nights.

The gang was tracked down and arrested in the Cape by local company Magma Security and Investigations.

The 15-year-old was snatched from his family home in Dundee and held captive for over 24 hours.

The teen’s mother told The Witness at the time that her son was outside washing the car on a Saturday afternoon when a man approached asking for help with his car.

When her son reached the car, a second man appeared, showed the boy a gun, pushed him onto the floor of the back passenger seats, threw a blanket over his head and drove away. She received a call from the kidnappers the morning after her son was taken.

The kidnappers wanted money in exchange for the boy’s safe return.

She sent the money via e-wallet to the kidnappers, who called shortly afterwards saying her son would be home in half-an-hour.

At around 8.30 am on the next day, the mother received a call from her son saying he was safe and that his mom could fetch him from Ladysmith.

Magma Security and Investigations director Shaheen Suleiman, together with crime intelligence and other law enforcement agencies, was able to trace the five alleged kidnappers to the Cape.

Suleiman said he and his team traced the gang through informers during a four-day investigation.

The five men were arrested at Malmesbury.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  kidnapped girls

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