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Seven days of hell

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By ANGELIQUE SERRAO

 

Johannesburg - He had just a day to live. His family didn’t have the money to pay his kidnappers, and they said they would kill him if the ransom didn’t arrive.

But the 39-year-old Germiston, Ekurhuleni, resident managed to escape from the garage where he had been kept hostage for a week.

On Thursday, the man, who was too fearful to allow his name to be printed in The Star, stood outside the home in Lenasia Extension 10, telling police officers of his ordeal.

His smart blue shirt and grey pants were soiled, and a scraggy beard covered his face.

Tired and scared, he wanted to leave the scene, even though he was surrounded by policemen.

Police spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Lungelo Dlamini explained how the man had driven to De Deur last Thursday, looking to buy a car.

He was in the street outside a car dealership when two men approached him. One of the men allegedly pointed a firearm at him and forced him to get into a car.

He was blindfolded, then tied up and driven to the house, where he was locked in a garage at the side of the dwelling.

There he spent a week, he told police, sleeping on the floor among boxes filled with clothes. He was given a bottle and plastic bag to urinate and defecate in.

Every day, he said, the wife of one of the kidnappers would bring him food. She also gave him a Bible.

Dlamini said the man waited until he heard his alleged kidnappers leave the house, when he pushed up a piece of the corrugated roof and climbed out.

Tshililo Dama, who lives nearby, said it was just before 9 in the morning when a man approached her asking for help.

“He said ‘help me please, I need the police’. I asked him for what, and he told me he had been kidnapped for seven days. He was shaken,” Dama said.

She said she took him to her friend Anna Nchai’s house, where they called the police.

“He told us the kidnappers wanted his family to transfer a ransom today at a Shoprite store. They told him if the money didn’t come, they would inject him.

“We don’t know what (kind of) injection, but we think they meant to kill him,” she said.

Dama said nobody on the road knew the people who lived in the house. There were a large number of occupants in the house, and they were considered rich because of the fancy cars they drove and the parties they threw.

“We heard they were diamond dealers, and they are even involved in a court case,” said a neighbour, Elizabeth Hloele.

The victim’s brother, Vusi (not his real name), said he and his mother received a call last week from a man saying they had kidnapped his brother.

“They first asked for R45 000, but then kept on changing their minds, and said that if we transferred R10 000, they would let my brother go,” Vusi said.

They wanted R40 000 on Thursday – which was their final decision, they told him.

He spoke to his brother on the phone, and each time he would cry and beg for help.

“We felt so bad. We didn’t have the money. He has children,” Vusi said.

The family opened a case of kidnapping in Germiston, but didn’t know what to do.

Vusi said he felt relieved to see his brother on Thursday. His brother told him that the kidnappers had taken him to a river and threatened to throw him in.

 

Dlamini said eight people had been arrested in the house. A child, whose mother was arrested, was also taken away by the police.

Two of the suspects were men and six women.

Dlamini said only one of the men was identified as the kidnapper, and another suspect was being sought.

angelique.serrao@inl.co.za

The Star

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