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Kidnapped Portuguese butchery owner rescued in Soweto

A 49-year-old Portuguese businessman who was kidnapped for ransom last month, is the latest victim to be rescued by police. 

In the last six months, 12 businessmen and six students who had been kidnapped for ransom have been rescued by a multidisciplinary team led by the South African Police Service (SAPS) anti-kidnapping task team.

According to the SAPS, the Portuguese businessman was kidnapped from his business premises in Florida, Johannesburg, on 24 June.

“On Monday evening, 1 July 2024, the team traced the victim to a home in Snake Park, Soweto, where he had been in captivity. 

“On the same evening, members also arrested one of his captors in Turffontein, Johannesburg,” a statement from the Office of the National Commissioner of the SAPS read. 

Portuguese South African butchery owners being targeted

According to Eyewitness News (EWN), Portuguese South African butchery owners are being targeted in a spate of kidnappings in Gauteng. 

The news organisation said that 20 Portuguese South African butchery owners and managers were kidnapped in the province since January last year, with one victim murdered.  

EWN said ransom demands for the safe release of the victims range between R400 000 and R3.5 million, while in at least nine of these cases, ransom demands started from R10 million.

“The SAPS anti-kidnapping task team including other law enforcement agencies and private security have been working around the clock to find the businessman, safe and unharmed,” the police said. 

The police believe that the 39-year-old suspect belongs to a syndicate that is responsible for at least four other kidnappings where businessmen were the target in the Johannesburg District. 

“The team is currently tracing suspects who were working together with the man.

“In cases where the businessmen and students had been rescued, no ransom payment was made as a direct result of the expertise and capabilities of SAPS detectives, the crime intelligence unit and collaboration with private security.” 

As per the police statement from January 2024 to date, 49 kidnappers who had demanded ransom payment from families of victims have been arrested in Gauteng, the North West and Free State. 

In addition, 21 vehicles used in the commission of these crimes have been confiscated and eight firearms have also been seized. 

“The SAPS is confident that working together with all stakeholders and community tip-offs, it will continue to take down more syndicates believed to be behind a spate of kidnappings for ransom across the country,” the SAPS added.

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