More Bangladeshi shopkeepers kidnapped for ransom

Buziwe Nocuze

Bangladeshi shopkeepers in Cape Town are increasingly being kidnapped for ransom. They are allegedly targeted because criminals assume they make a lot of money from their spaza shops.

In the latest incident, three Bangladeshi nationals who work at spaza shops around Samora Machel township were abducted from their shops, with kidnappers demanding a ransom of R5 million for their safe return.

The victims have been missing since 17 June.

On Sunday the Bangladeshi community gathered at Rylands Primary School to call for an end to the shopkeepers’ kidnappings.

“The people who kidnapped them are asking for a lot of money, the money we don’t have,” said one community member.

In a recorded call in Scrolla.Africa’s possession, an alleged kidnapper can be heard asking why it was taking time to get the money they have requested. The kidnapper went on to say he was tired of repeating himself.

The Bangladeshi shopkeeper can be heard explaining that they do not have money. The victims are only selling fish and chips, and they do not have the amount the kidnappers are demanding.

The kidnapper said he usually sees a lot of people going into the victims’ shops in numbers to buy, meaning they were making a lot of money.

When he was told that the customers don’t buy items worth more than R10, the suspect got angry and claimed that one of the victims had died. 

According to the community, this is not the first incident in which one of them was kidnapped. In May, a Bangladeshi man, also a shopkeeper, was kidnapped but was released when his family paid R100,000 ransom.

He claimed to have been tortured, had his fingers cut and burned and his nails had been pulled out of his fingers.

“We have been trying to get the money; they are asking for something we did when one of us was kidnapped, but it is a lot. We do not have money.”

Faiez Jacobs, an ANC MP for Greater Athlone, said they need expertise because sometimes the police do not have the capacity to handle kidnapping. They are overstretched and dealing with many crimes on the Cape Flats.

“We need to get to the bottom of this, and the communities need to be the first to report this when it is happening,” added Jacobs.

Captain Frederick van Wyk, Western Cape Police spokesperson, said the circumstances surrounding the incident are being investigated.


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