Welkom – What started as one case of kidnapping with the Moti brothers has now spread like wildfire. Kidnappings are on the rise and the Free State police are on alert as new reports of kidnappings emerge in the province.
Ten people have been arrested on kidnapping charges in the Free State. This has forced Free State police to organise and dedicate a portion of the organised crime officers to solely focus on kidnapping cases, said Stephen Thakeng, Free State police spokesperson.
It seems as if their modus operandi is to target business people when they are opening and closing their businesses. Thakeng stressed it is now essential to reinforce security during these two dangerous hours.
The prime targets for kidnappers seem to be foreign national business owners. Thakeng confirmed that several cases involve the kidnapping of foreign nationals. The most recent case saw three foreign nationals being kidnapped as they were getting into their vehicle after closing up.
“Last week Thursday, it was at night when these three foreign nationals just jumped into their vehicle and the suspects managed to attack them. Four shots were fired towards the driver and then these suspects managed to take the vehicle and drive off. That is when they first demanded R150 000. The businessmen did not have that kind of money and eventually they brought it down to R50 000 which was then delivered.”
Arrests of suspects linked to kidnappings
Three suspects were arrested while the fourth was able to escape with the money. Although not all of them were caught, Thakeng believes that those in custody are tied to other cases that have been reported and can provide more information for police.
Kidnappings have been increasing rapidly in the Free State. In a bid to get this particular crime under control and eradicate it, the Free State police have launched a joint venture with police and crime intelligence in a bid to eradicate all kidnappings.
“This organised crime unit is basically involved in the whole process. They are involved to ensure that definitely this stage of crime and kidnappings is being actually squeezed to zero and that is the aim of the Free State police. To ensure that we squeeze this particular crime. We’ve managed to arrest ten people for now. This is why we regard it as a breakthrough and more arrests are imminent.”
Measures for business owners
Thakeng has appealed to business owners to be more alert about their surroundings. Increase security during closing and opening hours. He also offered other helpful tips on what to do if you feel you are being followed.
“If you suspect that you are being followed, don’t go straight to your residential place. Go to a garage because we know most of them have got security cameras or else rush to the police station. That is the safest place you can go to. Then we can ensure that our people are safe.” Inayet Wadee delves in the scourge of kidnappings in the Free State.