'They knew my name, my son's name' - top lawyer Charity Nzuza recalls dramatic kidnapping

2018-11-16 15:48

WATCH: Family taken hostage during hijacking

2018-11-15 12:23

Police are looking for five suspects who hijacked and kidnapped a family of three in Constantia Kloof, West Rand over the weekend. Watch. WATCH

Charity Nzuza's kidnappers knew her by name and had full knowledge of her movements, she has told News24.

Nzuza, chief executive officer of the National Forum on the Legal Profession, and a colleague were kidnapped outside her home in Centurion at around 16:30 on Wednesday afternoon.

Dramatic CCTV footage of the incident was shared widely on social media.

In the video, three men pull the two women from their VW Polo and force them into a white Mercedes-Benz.

The other woman was dropped off unharmed a few minutes later.

Nzuza said she was approached by three men as she was being dropped off at home by a company driver.

"One called me by name. He said, 'Charity, come with us'," Nzuza recounted.

"I was shocked and confused. How does he know my name?"

Nzuza said she struggled with the men and refused to go with them. During the scuffle, she was dragged along the pavement to the Mercedes-Benz.

This can be seen on the CCTV footage.

'Don't make this difficult'

"He said my name again: 'Charity, don't make this difficult, come with us'.

"I was scared but, more than anything, I was very confused. I was not being hijacked – someone wanted me specifically."

Nzuza said her face had been covered with a jacket and the men drove around with her for about two hours.

She heard the men were "looking for the N3".

The men took great care not to use one another's names.

At around 19:00, the car stopped. "At that time, they were calling someone and referring to this person as 'Madala'," Nzuza recalled.

"'We have her,' they told Madala. 'We found her'."

Nzuza said it appeared that the men were taking instructions from 'Madala'.

"They told me not to worry, as long as I gave them what they wanted, everything would be fine. So, I asked them, 'What is it that you want?' They said I knew... 'If you give it to us, there will be no problems, there will be no killing'."

Nzuza was moved to a different vehicle, with four men, and driven to another location, again with her face covered.

Here, the men waited for another group of men who were in possession of her laptop.

'Transfer the money'

Once the laptop arrived, the men demanded that Nzuza "transfer the money".

The men wanted R80m, a random amount they saw on a financial statement on Nzuza's laptop.

"They said they had been told that I am 'the big boss' and that I control a lot of millions. I was shocked. I told them I didn't have the ability to sit here and transfer money."

The men then threatened to kill Nzuza. They told her she was lying and that she had control over "trust money".

The men then took the laptop and again consulted with 'Madala' for instructions. After 45 minutes, they again demanded that she transfer the money.

Nzuza again explained that she couldn't.

She then offered them her bank card and PIN, but the men initially refused, saying they didn't want her personal money, they wanted her company's money.

"That money is for the children, they said."

Some of the men suggested that Nzuza be tortured until she gave in to their demands.

The men then argued among one another, as some believed her, while others thought she was lying. Two of the men wanted the others to hand Nzuza over to them to "deal with" her.

Some of the men then left to withdraw money from Nzuza's bank account. This took some time, Nzuza said, because the men waited until after midnight in order to make a second withdrawal.

Tracking her for 3 days

While waiting, some of the other men revealed to Nzuza that they had been tracking her for three days.

"They knew where I parked my car, they knew I sometimes had meetings at the Protea Hotel, they knew my son's name, they even knew that I go to Virgin Active …"

After 01:30, Nzuza was dropped off at a petrol station in City Deep, Johannesburg.

"They were apologising to me, saying they were sorry for what they'd done to me.

"I was so confused. They kept saying I didn't deserve this, that I'm not a bad person."

According to Nzuza, the men then offered to "protect her".

The men then argued as to whether Nzuza should be given her belongings.

Eventually, she was given back her laptop, but two of the men kept her phone and iPad.

"I have no idea why this happened or who was behind this. Yes, I was scared, but I was more confused than scared. This was specifically aimed at me. I thought I was going to be killed."

But as midnight approached, Nzuza grew more hopeful as the men had relaxed and were "sharing many things" with her, at one point even offering to tell her who was behind her kidnapping.

Nzuza said she would be receiving protection from a private security company, as well as the police, who have confirmed they are investigating the kidnapping.

"For now, all I'm left with is confusion."

WATCH: Senior lawyer dragged into car and kidnapped 'for department's R80m budget'

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