Kidnappings in South Africa increase as the public is urged to be more vigilant

Johannesburg – Kidnapping has become big business in South Africa and kidnappers have become much more dangerous. This is the warning from Kidnapping Incident Manager at TSU International, attorney Herman Bosman, who said everyone should be much more vigilant, not just on the streets, but also when leaving and arriving at home and work.

Unsurprisingly, Gauteng leads the race where most kidnappings happen in SA, followed by KZN and the Western Cape followed by Tembisa (74), Inanda in KZN (74), Randfontein (67) and Johannesburg Central (66) .

However, Bosman cautions that while these statistics have value, they don’t necessarily paint a clear picture of what is actually happening. The crime statistics for 2019/2020 showed that there were 930 kidnappings in Gauteng.

Carjackings rose 13.3% to 18,162. Truck hijackings rose 1.7% to 1,202. Surprisingly, money robberies fell 10.4% to 164. Bosman said the reasons for kidnapping people could be different, but the most common factors include robbery, human trafficking, criminal revenge, sexual offenses and mob justice.

“People who are raped are also kidnapped. They were arrested and detained against their will. They either have something they want, like money or information. Whether you can make it home alive depends on the reasons you were abducted, ”said Bosman.

Lizette Lancaster, director of Crime Hub: Justice and Violence Prevention at the Institute for Security Studies (ISS), said few crimes scare South Africans as much as kidnapping children. Video images of young children being grabbed by strangers add to these concerns.

There was excitement on social media over the abduction of the four Moti siblings in Limpopo. According to #MakeSASafe’s Yusuf Abramjee, there have been a number of kidnappings in the past few days, many of which have been arrested and are still missing. And while the number of social media posts has been overwhelming, Lancaster said the Gauteng Police Department “noted with concern” the continued selling of fake news relating to human trafficking and / or kidnapping of women and children. and warn the public against the ceaseless promotion and dissemination of such malicious falsehoods. ‘

“Under South African law, kidnapping is considered to be the unlawful and deliberate disfranchisement of a person or, if such a person is a child, the unlawful willful disregard of control of the child by a parent. This should not be confused with kidnapping. In South Africa, kidnapping is the unlawful and deliberate removal of an unmarried minor from the control of his or her parents or guardian in order to enable someone to marry him or have sexual intercourse with him. This is a crime against the legal guardian and not the minor, regardless of the consent given, ”Lancaster said.

Experts warn of the increase in kidnappings in South Africa. File image.

She added that 2019/2020 crime statistics highlight a significant 133% increase in police reported cases since 2010/2011 – from 2,839 this year to 6,632 in 2019/20.

Lancaster said the SAPS Crime Registrar’s office is researching the circumstances behind abductions based on a random sample of documents from different provinces. If the case file contains sufficient information, an analysis of the incidents is carried out. For 2019/2020, a sample of 3,024 routing slips was selected for which one motive was clear.

Ransom and extortion kidnappings combined accounted for less than 5% of the sample. More than a quarter (27%) were kidnappings with the intent to commit a sexual offense. This is a large and worrying proportion. Although the data from the SAPS shows that 45% of the sex offenses investigated are directed against children, there is no indication of the proportion that also involved kidnapping.

“The available data suggest that infants are most likely to be abducted by a parent or guardian in custody disputes. There are also cases when one guardian does not ask the other guardian’s permission to take a child, ”she said.

According to the ISS, kidnappings are on the rise in most countries around the world. Traditionally, 80% of ransom kidnappings took place in Latin America. In Africa, South Africa has experienced relatively low kidnapping rates compared to conflicting countries such as Nigeria and Mozambique.

In South Africa, kidnappings of wealthy business people, including visitors from certain Asian and African countries, have increased because potential kidnappers have information about their wealth and often their preference for cash transactions. The ransom money is often extremely high because it is believed that the family is willing and able to pay such ransom money. They also often hold victims for some time to ensure despair and compliance, “she said.

Bosman, who served for nearly 30 years at SAPS, said kidnappings are well planned and warns anyone against making rash decisions about how to deal with a kidnapping incident and only using recognized specialists who are equipped to deal with kidnappings.

“For many kidnappers, it’s about motive and opportunity. We all need to protect ourselves. Social media can be a very dangerous place. Keep your lifestyle private. Stay away from the phone while on the move and be more vigilant, ”he warned. While neither Lanacster nor Bosman wanted to get involved in ransom demands, Bosman said it could run into the millions.

The Saturday star

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