Western Cape Hawks urge public not to make 'prank' kidnapping reports

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The Hawks in the Western Cape urged residents to refrain from reporting fake kidnapping cases.
The Hawks in the Western Cape urged residents to refrain from reporting fake kidnapping cases.
PHOTO: Laird Forbes, Gallo Images
  • The Hawks have raised concerns over "fake" reports of kidnapping.
  • This comes after a prank in which a foreigner was reported as being kidnapped.
  • South Africa has recently seen a surge in kidnappings.

The Hawks in the Western Cape have urged members of the public to refrain from reporting fake kidnapping cases.

Hawks spokesperson Zinzi Hani said their concern had been sparked by a prank, in which it was reported that a foreigner had been kidnapped.

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The 32-year-old foreigner was alleged to have flown from Zimbabwe to South Africa on Thursday, 1 December to meet his fiancée. She told police they were meant to travel back to Zimbabwe for their wedding ceremony.

"Information indicated that he landed at Cape Town International Airport on a flight from OR Tambo International Airport," said Hani.

"The information received indicated that he ordered a taxi to pick him up at the airport. He was allegedly taken by a different vehicle and not the taxi he requested.

READ | Kidnapping cases double to over 4 000 in the second quarter

"[That night], the fiancée is said to have received messages from his phone that stated 'We got him', and demanded money for his safe return. No ransom amount was mentioned."

A task team was activated to investigate the matter, and the Hawks established that no traveller with the name and surname supplied had travelled from Zimbabwe to South Africa in the past three months.

Video footage at Cape Town International Airport also did not show anyone matching the alleged kidnapping victim at the airport.

Hani said:

The complainant received another message hours later indicating that the victim was on his way home and that his phone battery was flat.

"The complainant contacted his family; they indicated that he was safe and it was only a prank," added Hani.

She added that the "continued peddling of fake news" resulted in police resources being diverted from crime fighting.

South Africa has seen an increase in kidnappings, with more than 4 000 cases reported to the police between July and September. The rate has doubled compared to the same period last year.

Gauteng recorded the highest number, with a total of 2 104 people reportedly kidnapped, followed by KwaZulu-Natal at 785, and the Western Cape at 248.

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