PODCAST | The Story: The Moti brothers kidnapping - a chilling trend?

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  • It's been almost two weeks since the four young Moti brothers were kidnapped while being driven to school in Polokwane, Limpopo. 
  • It is unclear whether the kidnappers of the brothers, aged between 6 and 15, have demanded a ransom.
  • Police are tightlipped, but have told the media they will be informed of any developments.

High profile kidnappings have been dominating the headlines in South Africa and there are fears that organised crime syndicates with international links are behind these crimes. On the morning of 20 October, the four Moti brothers were kidnapped on their way to private school in Polokwane, Limpopo.

The boys, aged between 6 and 15, were kidnapped when the car they were being driven in was forced to stop by two vehicles. Seven armed men took the brothers, and left the driver behind unharmed. 

READ | 'Moti brothers could've already been moved across provinces, borders' - kidnapping expert

On this week's episode of The Story, we speak to News24 journalist Tebogo Monama, who travelled to Polokwane to cover the case. We also speak to anti-crime activist Yusuf Abramjee about the increase in kidnappings, and the police's lack of intelligence resources to pre-empt these attacks.

Monama said the parents of the boys are "well-liked business people" who live in a close-knit community. The father of the boys, Nazim Moti, is the chief executive of Auto Moti, a car dealership in Polokwane. Monama said police have not been commenting in the past week, and the family spokesperson, Phillip Smit, said the family had not yet received a ransom demand. He has also stopped commenting on the case. 

READ | Police still searching for 4 brothers kidnapped in Polokwane - and there has been no ransom demand

Anti-crime activist Yusuf Abramjee said there have been several kidnappings in the past few weeks, signalling a "dramatic increase". He said there have also been a number of kidnappings of South Africans of Indian origin.

Abramjee believes organised crime gangs are behind the kidnappings - "highly organised, highly dangerous" gangs. He said there are also smaller gangs who kidnap "for a quick buck, who will target anyone and everyone". Abramjee said these gangs have become more and more active in recent months, particularly in Johannesburg. 


He told News24 police have not done enough, if they had "these gangs would not continue to run amok". Abramjee added that crime intelligence "has broken down significantly in South Africa", and that if crime intelligence had been in place "we probably would have broken the back of these crime syndicates a long time ago".

He believes the time has come for the South African government to bring in international law enforcement agencies, like the FBI. A further concern is "police involvement", who are "aiding and abetting these criminal syndicates". 

He said it was for this reason that some families are nervous to even report these cases to the police and that the number of cases reported are "only a small fraction" because families negotiate directly with the kidnappers and pay the ransom, in a bid to have their loved ones released unharmed. 

National police spokesperson Brigadier Vish Naidoo denied that police are involved with these syndicates and told News24 that there was "only one case that comes to mind, that I have information on.

Those police officers were arrested by our very own members". He said those making such allegations against the police should come forward with any such information regarding police involvement, as that would "serve the nation a great deal".

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