Business owners fear being kidnapped for ransom 

By Anita Dangazele

The kidnapping of business people for ransom has surged in Nelson Mandela Bay with the kidnapping of five business owners since the start of the year.

Sonam Gajjar, 34, the wife of businessman Rikesh Gajjar, who owns OK Grocer in Kariega, as well as a string of other smaller businesses in the town square, became the latest victim on Wednesday morning.

Police spokesperson Priscilla Naidu said Gajjar was snatched from her car as she drove out of her yard on Mosel Road in Kariega at about 7.50am.

“While waiting for the gate to close behind her, she was accosted by four men. Her driver’s side window was smashed and she was dragged out of her car and shoved into a waiting white Hyundai,” Naidu said.

The kidnappers sped off in the direction of Motherwell. No ransom demand has been received as yet.

Meanwhile, it’s 14 days since the owner of Neal’s Fish and Chips, Neal Ah-tow, 59, was forcibly taken outside his shop as he was preparing to open it on 1 March.

An initial ransom demand of $1.4-million (R26.7-million) for his release has since been reduced to R14-million.

On 24 January, subcontractor Godknows Chavazhinji, 34, was abducted on Somyali Street in Wells Estate.

Later that same day another business owner, Zahir Bayit, 54, was kidnapped as he left his hardware store in Motherwell.

Bayit was released after four days when his family paid a ransom of R1-million.

Severely injured Chavazhinji was dropped off the next day in Gqeberha’s Korsten suburb. No ransom was paid in his case despite demands ranging from R3,000 to R100,000.

In another incident in February, a 50-year-old woman was abducted from her business in North End. A ransom of R4.5-million was demanded but no money was paid.

She managed to escape the next day and was found in Motherwell.

Nelson Mandela Bay police commissioner Major-General Vuyisile Ncata said police are concerned about the kidnapping trend.

“People operating businesses are in a state of fear,” he said. “We are worried. As the police, we are doing our best to investigate these cases but we need to put more proactive actions in place to prevent what is happening.”

Pictured above: The latest kidnapping victim, Sonam Gajjar, 34, who was violently snatched from her car.

Image source: Supplied

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