Wits student abduction case postponed to October 19

A case against seven suspects who lured and kidnapped a Wits University student has been postponed to October 19.

The group made a brief appearance in the Johannesburg magistrate’s court on Monday.

According to police, the men are linked to at least 85 cases in which the LGBTQI+ community members were targeted for ransom payments.

They allegedly pose as potential lovers on Grndr, a dating site for the LGBTQI+ community, before kidnapping the victims with an objective to extort money from their loved ones.

The group was located to a house in Denver, Johannesburg in September, where they were holding the 18-year-old university student hostage.

Soon after the teenager went missing, his roommate reported the matter to the police and opened a case of a missing person.

When the police pounced on the suspects, the student was discovered in an unconscious state and was rushed to the hospital. His belongings were also found at a place where he was kept captive.

Police spokesperson Athlenda Mathe said the suspects were arrested after they had demanded R30 000 ransom from the victim’s family.

All seven men face charges of kidnapping and extortion.

Gauteng MEC for community safety Faith Mazibuko called on the public to be wary of cybercriminals targeting unsuspecting individuals on social media platforms.

Mazibuko also commended the rescue team for reuniting the teenager with his family.

“I would like to commend the heroic law-enforcement officials who carried out the rescue operation,” Mazibuko said at the time.

“The successful apprehension of the suspects is a result of collaborative efforts by various law-enforcement agencies and private security companies.”

Police Minister Bheki Cele said in September that kidnapping is on the rise across the country, warning that syndicates are not only targeting business people and their families but also university students.

South Africa has so far this year recorded a significant 8.6% increase in reported kidnapping cases compared to 2022.

About 3 854 cases were reported between April and June 2023, according to crime statistics released by the police recently.


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