February 8, 2023

Over 4,000 kidnap cases recorded in South Africa in 2022

By Biodun Busari 

About 4,028 kidnap cases were reported at police stations in South Africa in 2022, as against 2,000 cases in 2021 which has shown a threatening rate of crimes in the country. 

The figures showed that kidnapping for ransom and extortion is fast becoming a lucrative business in South Africa, according to Business Tech on Wednesday. 

The kidnappers, according to the report, are increasingly targeting middle and low income earning individuals in their crimes.

A report by the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organised Crime (GI-TOC), published that a number of kidnappings in South Africa has grown alarmingly over the past year, with an average of 1,143 kidnappings per month reported during the first half of 2022.

This was almost double the monthly average of 700 cases reported in 2021, Business Tech said.

“Latest trends also suggest that wealthy individuals themselves are no longer the sole targets of organised kidnapping syndicates, but that the threat now increasingly extends to family members, friends and associates,” the group said.

“Previously, companies would mainly insure their executives against kidnapping and extortion when they travelled to high-risk areas. Now the threat extends to entire families who are at risk of being potential kidnapping victims.”

It said that the crime has become a lucrative enterprise, and is seen as an easy way to get money.

However, due to the hard economic times in the country, criminals have now widened their tentacles and abducting for a ransom no longer targets just the rich and the famous.

“These days, syndicates are known to snatch anyone with the means or the support network to raise a ransom amount,” it said.

“As a result, we have seen ordinary people being kidnapped for ransoms as small as R500,000 or less, as long as they have family or friends who can raise the money for their release. The kidnapping syndicates are definitely expanding their market, and people should be aware of this,” the group said.

According to the GI-TOC report, many of the locations where kidnappings took place in South Africa last year were not in the wealthy suburbs of Johannesburg and Pretoria, but rather in low-income areas.

The research suggested that many cases involved average earners with no visible source of disposable money, compelling the victims to gather together a smaller ransom amount.

“Syndicates have come to realise that lower-income earners make for easy targets and do not draw media attention. 

“On the other hand, higher earners also have better means at their disposal to increase their personal safety. It is not surprising then that kidnapping is becoming more prevalent in less affluent communities,” the group said.