Man held over kid­nap scam

The Star Early Edition - - METRO WATCH - ANNA COX

AJOBURGspice shop owner who al­legedly con­cocted an elab­o­rate tale about be­ing kid­napped by a sin­is­ter syn­di­cate of Pak­istani ex­tor­tion­ists to raise money for his gambling debts is fac­ing jail time.

Har­ishb­hai Pa­tel is al­leged to have fooled his fam­ily and the In­dian com­mu­nity in the Joburg CBD into pay­ing part of the ran­som.

Pa­tel told his fam­ily on Satur­day af­ter­noon that he was meet­ing some Pak­ista­nis to pay them to ar­range for un­der-the-counter im­mi­gra­tion pa­pers for a fam­ily mem­ber in In­dia.

Such syn­di­cates do ex­ist, so his story was be­lieved.

A res­i­dent who was in­volved in as­sist­ing the fam­ily, but did not want to be named, said Pa­tel left his home in the CBD at 3pm. He was not back by 6pm, so his wife called him. He said he was at Gold Reef City and would be re­turn­ing soon.

At 10pm, she tried to call, but his phone was off and she pan­icked.

At mid­night, a man speak­ing Urdu an­swered Pa­tel’s phone and said he was hold­ing him, and his wife should pay R10 000 ran­som for his re­turn.

“She man­aged to raise R10 000, but no one ar­rived to fetch it,” he said. Yet on Sun­day at 7am, the “kid­nap­pers” called to say they were dis­ap­pointed that the money had not been paid, and in­creased their de­mand to R65 000.

They said his hands would be cut off if the money was not paid and they told her to de­posit it into his bank ac­count.

It is be­lieved that Pa­tel’s rel­a­tives re­fused to help him pay his gambling debts.

The po­lice were con­tacted and they ad­vised her to pay small in­stal­ments, which would give them time to in­ves­ti­gate.

The com­mu­nity helped raise R10 000, which was paid into the “vic­tim’s” bank ac­count.

Top po­lice of­fi­cials, in­clud­ing bri­gadiers and colonels, dropped ev­ery­thing to find the kid­nap vic­tim. They went to Gold Reef City and spent hours look­ing at video footage, which did not show Pa­tel’s car en­ter­ing or leav­ing the en­ter­tain­ment venue.

Fol­low­ing in­tense in­ves­ti­ga­tions, in­clud­ing mon­i­tor­ing with­drawals made at ATMs, po­lice were led to Dur­ban on Tues­day, where they found Pa­tel.

“Po­lice be­came sus­pi­cious when they found him in a house sit­ting and eat­ing a meal with his sup­posed cap­tors,” said the source.

The source said po­lice were won­der­ful and had taken the case se­ri­ously.

“Our com­mu­nity has noth­ing but praise for them. It is a pity that so much man­power and tax­pay­ers’ money has been wasted on a scam like this to set­tle gambling debts,” he said.

Provin­cial po­lice spokesman Bri­gadier Neville Malila said four sus­pects were in cus­tody and due to ap­pear in the Protea Mag­is­trate’s Court this morn­ing on fraud, kid­nap­ping and per­jury charges.

He said the cost of the po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tion would be in­cluded in the crim­i­nal charges.

“This case in­volved a lot of time and re­sources, in­clud­ing trav­el­ling to Dur­ban. Per­jury is a very se­ri­ous crime, which could mean jail time.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.