According to a report, the Moti family paid R50 million in cash for the safe return of their four kidnapped sons.
News24 is reporting this claim after allegedly speaking to three sources with knowledge of the investigation. According to the report, the Moti brothers – Zia, 15, Zayyad, 11, Alaan, 13, and Zidan, 7 – were returned soon after the money was handed over.
A police source told the publication that a dead drop was used to hand over the money. A dead drop is when an item, in this instance the bag of cash, is left at a specified spot and later collected by the kidnappers.
Keshia Patchiappen, the spokesperson for the Moti family, however, denies that a ransom was paid.
“There has been a lot of speculation and false information spread about the circumstances around the kidnapping. The Moti family would like to clarify that no ransom was paid. Saps [South African Police Service] was integral to the safe return of our boys, and we are very grateful for their dedication in this regard. Unfortunately, we cannot provide further comment on this as these are sensitive details that pertain to the ongoing investigation,” Patchiappen was quoted as saying.
After being held captive for three weeks, the Moti brothers were dropped off on a road near Vuwani, Limpopo.
National police spokesperson Brigadier Vishnu Naidoo said in a statement: “Police received a call from a local resident, saying that the children arrived at their house, saying they were dropped off on a nearby road. Police arranged a doctor, who confirmed that the children were in good health, before they were handed over to their parents. The children also appeared to be in high spirits during the reunion with their parents.”
The four brothers were kidnapped on 20 October after several armed men blocked the vehicle they were travelling in, with a Kia Sorento and Mercedes-Benz. The boys were on the way to school in Polokwane. Their driver was left behind.
A massive search operation commenced and continued for three weeks.
Although the Moti kidnapping case gained national attention, the crime has seen a more than 100% increase in the last 10 years.
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Lizette Lancaster, crime hub manager at the Institute for Security Studies, said kidnappings had surged recently.
“The South African Police Service crime statistics for the period 1 April 2019 to 31 March 2020 highlighted a 133% increase in kidnapping cases reported to the police since 2010-2011, up from 2,839 that year to 6,632 in 2019-20,” said Lancaster.
“One-third of kidnappings occurred in Gauteng and 21.5% in KwaZulu-Natal.”
Additional reporting by Marizka Coetzer