No reports of kidnapped South African - Dirco

2016-06-22 22:49

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Johannesburg - The international relations department is waiting for confirmation of the reported kidnapping of a South African in Nigeria, a spokesperson said on Wednesday.

“We have not heard anything from our embassy in Nigeria yet. We are waiting for an official report,” Nelson Kgwete said.

The department heard of the kidnapping from the media.

Earlier News24 reported that, according to Nigerian police, a South African, two Australians, and two Nigerians were kidnapped in the country's south-east after their vehicle was stopped in the Akpabuyo district near the capital of Cross River state, Calabar, around 07:00 (08:00 South African time) on Wednesday.

Their driver was shot dead.

All five worked for Australian mining and engineering giant Macmahon. It was contracted to cement company LafargeHolcim in the state, police commissioner Jimoh Ozi-Obeh told reporters.

A witness to the abduction, who asked not to be identified, said the kidnappers took the men to a boat.

Police were working with the Nigerian navy to rescue the group, Ozi-Obeh said. No ransom demand had been received.

LafargeHolcim spokesperson Viola Graham-Douglas said Macmahon told the company about the kidnapping. The Australian company was working with the security agencies to free the five.

Macmahon had an $18m per year contract with the United Cement Company of Nigeria (UniCem) for quarrying operations at UniCem's cement manufacturing plant at Mfamosing, near Calabar.

UniCem is a joint venture between Franco-Swiss conglomerate LafargeHolcim and Flour Mills of Nigeria, according to the Australian firm's website.

Kidnapping for ransom has been a long-standing problem in southern Nigeria, particularly in the oil-producing delta region, where criminal gangs target wealthy Nigerians and expatriate workers.

Most are usually released after payment of a ransom.

Read more on:    dirco  |  nigeria  |  kidnappings

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