By: Chandrashekar Bhat
An Indian businessman kidnapped in South Africa has been released after the payment of a ransom, media reports said.
Keyur Malli landed in Johannesburg on January 20 to strike a deal related to metals but he was kidnapped by a “Pakistani gang,” from outside the airport.
Malli’s family in Rajkot in the western Indian state of Gujarat raised alarm and his release was eventually secured last Monday with the involvement of the Indian consulate and South African and Indian police. Malli, whose rescue cost his family Rs 3 million (£30263) in ransom, returned to Rajkot on Thursday (2), the reports said.
He told media persons on Friday that a man had invited him to visit Africa to personally inspect the goods that he was offering to sell.
“But they had hatched a conspiracy to kidnap and hold me to ransom. As soon as I landed at the airport, they kidnapped me and demanded Rs1.5 crore (Rs 15 million) ransom,” he said.
His father Praful told the Indian Express, “My son had been in contact with a person identifying himself as Abdul in Johannesburg for the past four months and promising a deal to sell cast iron products and copper scrap. After landing at the airport in the early hours of January 20, my son contacted Abdul who told him that he was sending someone to pick him up and take him to a hotel.”
The men drove him to some suburb instead of the hotel and later made a call demanding a Rs 15 million (£151318) ransom, he said.
Praful alerted Rajkot police who in turn established contact with South African police.
Parthrajsinh Gohil, Deputy Commissioner of Police (Crime) of Rajkot city police said: “We immediately sent an e-mail to the Indian consulate in Johannesburg and the consulate officers alerted the South African police in turn. Later on, we also alerted the Ministry of External Affairs of India and they too gave necessary instructions to the Indian Consulate.”
“We came to know about the involvement of a Pakistani gang in the kidnapping and alerted the SA police. In the meantime, the victim’s family transferred some amount through hawala to SA leading to his eventual rescue. However, SA police nabbed four men, believed to be Pakistani nationals in connection with the crime,” he said.