Home PodcastJulie Alli Everyday South Africans at Risk: Kidnappers Target Ordinary People for Ransom

Everyday South Africans at Risk: Kidnappers Target Ordinary People for Ransom

by Thaabit Kamaar


South Africa – In recent years, kidnapping in South Africa has been rapidly increasing, placing the country among the top 10 globally for such crimes. Kidnappings affect all communities, targeting not only high-profile individuals and wealthy families but also ordinary people, as criminals seek ransom from anyone they can exploit.

Despite the relentless efforts of the police and other security agencies to combat this surge, Yaseen Theba, Director of Vision Tactical, highlighted a significant challenge, the organised nature of the criminal syndicates involved.

According to Theba, these syndicates use technology and insider information and sometimes involve corrupt law enforcement to carry out their operations and evade capture.

“This is a concern. We are seeing police trying to combat them by getting a little bit more organised. Still, the syndicates are just getting away with it. Every kidnapping they get away with empowers them. They collaborate better, work better in their silos, and are even using technology. Suspects are now beating police, and it is becoming more difficult to catch them.”

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What Makes You an Easy Target for Kidnappers?

One of the main reasons people are targeted is the information they share on social media platforms. This information can often be personal and sharing it publicly can make you an easy target for kidnappers. Therefore, it’s crucial to be cautious about the information you share online.

While this vulnerability contributes to why criminals single out some individuals, Theba believes that kidnappers base their targeting on a wealth of additional information available to them.

“We strongly feel that these kidnapping syndicates are targeting people based on much more information. They are profiling their targets, especially in kidnapping for ransom cases.”

“They are targeting the victims much more and tend to know a little more. They profile them when they know that they’ve got access to cash. Routine is a major problem. These suspects know exactly which direction the victims are going in.”

Given the alarming frequency of these crimes affecting everyday South Africans, Theba provided advice for those facing a potential abduction or kidnapping situation: remain calm, report the incident to the police, and fully cooperate with the authorities.

Despite the trauma of the situation, families are strongly urged never to pay ransom to the kidnappers. Doing so only fuels their criminal activities and empowers them to continue targeting innocent people.

“We appeal to people to remain calm. The best thing a family can do is remain calm and cooperate with the authorities. We appeal to our community to stop the social media posts. We don’t know what we are doing to the life of the victim; we could be endangering their life.”

“Sometimes these suspects don’t have a profile of the victim, and by social media posts going out, we are helping the suspects profile the victim. We appeal to people to control the posts, maintain that it is a sensitive situation, and allow the family the space to deal with it in the way that the authorities require them to.”

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