During a discussion regarding crime at the National Press Club in Pretoria, anti-crime activist Yusuf Abramjee dropped a couple of bombshells.
We’ve seen a number of kidnappings of high profile business people in the headlines this past year or so, but the sheer scope of these crimes is actually pretty shocking.
Abramjee says there are “highly organised professional syndicates” operating in SA, and they’re making some cold, hard cash.
[Abramjee] said surviving victims and their families generally don’t want to talk about their experiences out of fear for their safety. As a result, information about the number of events and amounts of ransom demanded and/or paid is difficult to obtain.
Personally, he dealt with 15 kidnappings for ransom last year. In three of these cases, ransom collectively amounted to more than R50 million.
That’s a touch under R17 million each for those three cases.
I know we said 2018 is the year of the side hustle, but this isn’t what we meant.
Then there’s the emotional toll it takes on those who are kidnapped, with the recent high profile case of 76-year-old businessman Omar Carrim an example of that.
He was finally released last month after 137 days of being “handcuffed and shackled”. His family haven’t confirmed whether or not a ransom was paid for his return, but in a short statement they stressed the trauma he suffered:
Although there is no confirmation of the exact figure that led to the release of Cape Town businessman Zhaun Ahmed, those in the know reckon around R20 million changed hands:
[Abramjee] said that in three cases, the kidnappers demanded that the ransom be paid outside of South Africa in the Middle or Far East. He called on police to follow the money trail and said crime intelligence is crucial in fighting this crime.
Abramjee also questioned the role of “hawala” brokers or money changers in the channeling [sic] of ransom money.
You know it’s bad when there is a spin-off industry of brokers to aid and abet these criminals.
According to Professor Gérard Labuschagne, director of L&S Threat Management, South Africa could soon rival countries like Nigeria, Sudan and Mozambique:
While South Africa is not yet a hotspot, it could become one unless action is taken now, he said.
He said currently hostage negotiation is a secondary task for those trained police officers and called for specialised negotiators.
Labuschagne said paying a ransom is good and well to get the victim released, but it encourages kidnappers to continue with a very profitable enterprise. Against that background, insurance for this type of crime is a double-edged sword. Kidnappers could target companies they know have such insurance and should pay up more readily.
Seems like the kind of thing that might lead to successful businesspeople keeping a somewhat lower profile.
Anyone wanna kidnap Fikile Mbalula? Jokes, but this is his actual Twitter account right now:
That is some Trump levels of cringe right there.
Before we go, here’s what you should do if you’re caught in a ransom situation:
Yup, take a time out from social media. Wise words for us all.
[imagesource: TikTok / Ryan Reynolds] With the #MilkCrateChallenge on its last legs, we...
[imagesource: Facebook / Margaret Murdaugh] The Murdaughs have been one of the most pow...
[imagesource: Photo Illustration by Sean McCabe] Before there was Spotify, and curated ...
[imagesource: Facebook] Yet another tale of a doctor surreptitiously impregnating his p...
[imagesource: TIME] The TIME has arrived. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have been n...