Friday, July 19, 2024

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Police recue two kidnapped victims in Benoni as kidnappings surge across SA

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Swift action by the South African Police Service’s (SAPS’s) elite Special Task Force unit on Monday afternoon (8 June) led to the rescue of two kidnap victims at an informal settlement in Crystal Park, Benoni.

A 64-year-old man and a 34-year-old man were kidnapped while driving along Putfontein Road in Crystal Park on Sunday.

According to the police, the kidnappers immediately began making ransom demands to their families. The police were notified and a team, led by the Special Task Force, was mobilised.

On Monday afternoon, the team pounced on the kidnappers where a shootout ensued. One kidnapper was shot and killed; one was wounded and taken to hospital and the other four were arrested and taken into police custody.

“The SAPS assures communities that may become victims of this type of crime that it has the necessary expertise and capabilities to intercept and takedown syndicates involved in kidnappings where ransom demands are made,” said the police in a statement.

Last week, six kidnappers were arrested and two businessmen were rescued.

From January 2024 to date, 49 kidnappers who had demanded ransom payment from families of victims have been arrested in Gauteng, the North West and Free State. In addition, 21 vehicles used in the commission of these crimes have been confiscated and eight firearms have also been seized.

“The SAPS is confident that working together with all stakeholders and community tip-offs, it will continue to take down more syndicates believed to be behind a spate of kidnappings for ransom across the country,” the SAPS said.

Kidnapping cases have been increasingly rapidly in South Africa, with 15 343 recorded kidnapping cases in South Africa as reported by Statistics SA for the 2022/23 financial year. Gauteng had the highest incidences of kidnapping, with 7 818 reported, followed by KwaZulu-Natal with 3 081 cases of kidnapping in the same period. This sudden increase is associated with the rising levels of organised violent crime in the country.

The Institute for Security Studies (ISS) stated that kidnappings reported to the police in South Africa have almost quadrupled (260%) over the last decade. SAPS crime statistics for the third quarter of 2023 (October to December 2023) showed that kidnappings have increased by 11% year-on-year to 4 577 cases over the period – working out to roughly 51 kidnappings a day in South Africa.

Since the start of the year, more than R390 million has been demanded in a string of ransoms in almost 80 SAPS Anti-Kidnapping Unit investigations.

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