Home PodcastInayet Wadee Rise in kidnappings of foreign nationals in the Eastern Cape 

Rise in kidnappings of foreign nationals in the Eastern Cape 

by Luqmaan Rawat

Eastern Cape– Kidnappings of foreign nationals are on the rise. What started as a few cases has now spread with Eastern Cape now tagged as a kidnapping hot-spot. 

A new report indicates most victims are foreign nationals, with Pakistani businessmen being targeted the most. Johnnie Isaac, GroundUp Eastern Cape correspondent, explained that the kidnappings tend to happen in rural areas which makes it easier for the kidnappers to operate.  

“The site where this kind of crime is prevalent is very rural. So, because of the overall nature, it’s easy for criminals to go and catch their target without law enforcement being able to realise what has taken place. The police seem to be there to only help with negotiations rather than tracking down the criminals.”   

There are a lot of rumours being spread about who is behind the kidnappings. While foreigners are being blamed Isaac believes it is South Africans due to how the ransom drop offs are planned.  

“From the videos I’ve seen, the kidnappings are carried out by South Africans. They are the ones who demand a ransom. The way one ransom was paid tells me that it was a South African kind of arrangement. Someone who knew the area and directed them to drop the money by the bus stop. Someone was watching so when the bag has been dropped off, he quickly grabs it and does whatever he needs to.”   

Free State police address rise in kidnappings 

Theories for kidnappings of foreign nationals 

There are two possibilities why these kidnappings are taking place according to Isaac. The Hawks believe some of these kidnappings could be because of competition and while Isaac is inclined to side with them, he has another theory.  

“There is a possibility that it could be because of competition. It may also be that criminals see the variety of foreign nationals that are running businesses within their communities. It could be that they get people, fellow countrymen, who could be working for them or who could be behind it. At the moment, the only video I see is of South Africans being behind it.” 

Another reason for the kidnappings is the stereotype that foreign nationals have their money under their beds and not in banks. This opinion has fueled kidnappings against foreign nationals, said Isaac.  

“One of the things we thought can fuel this was the belief that foreign nationals don’t bank. They keep their money under their mattress. When they struggle to pay the ransom immediately it tells you that some people have to dig deep into their savings or even raise this money from their fellow countrymen.” 

At the moment, according to Isaac, foreign nationals are living in fear. These people are bringing in opportunities to the community and now they are being kidnapped for it. They are counting on the government to provide some sort of solution to this problem and protect them.  Inayet Wadee speaks to Johnnie Isaac from GroundUp EasternCape.

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