R5 million ransom demand for safe return of Municipal Manager

Mike Bolhuis’ Specialised Security Services says the family of kidnapped Nkangala District Municipal Manager Ms Maggie Skhosana have received ransom demands for the safe return of Ms Skhosana and her female driver, Ms Gugu Mtsweni.

Both women were kidnapped in front of the municipality’s entry gates last Thursday.

Ms Skhosana, who is wheelchair-dependent, was abducted alongside Ms Mtsweni shortly after 08:00 in the presence of municipal security guards.
Ms Mtsweni was pulled over by a white Ford Fiesta with flashing blue lights before she could enter the gates.

A man armed with a rifle got into the vehicle with the women, before ordering Ms Mtsweni to drive off.
She was later ordered to the back of the car with the man taking the wheel.

Also read: Disabled Nkangala District Municipal Manager and driver kidnapped

Ms Skhosana’s vehicle was found idling with all her personal belongings, including her wheelchair, still in the car.
The vehicle was found by her distraught husband who remains hopeful that the pair will be found unharmed.

Mr Morney Vos of Bolhuis’ Specialised Security Services is heading a specialised task team, working in conjunction with the SAPS.

Mr Vos told the Middelburg Observer that investigators have received voice notes from both women, indicating that they might be safe for now.
A R5 million ransom order has also been received.

Ms Gugu Mtsweni.

The ransom is expected to be paid in cash, though more details about the terms of a ransom delivery cannot be revealed yet.
The task team has already identified several suspects aligned with the Boko Haram gang.

The Boko Haram gang is a highly-organised crime syndicate that has carried out a number of similar kidnappings.
The gang is also tied to CIT heists, armed robberies, white-collar crimes and tender fraud.

Also read: Political motives may be behind kidnapping of Municipal Manager

According to Mr Vos, Ms Skhosana was in the process of awarding a tender with high financial gains before the kidnapping.

She’s also recently been seconded to the Sekhukhune District Municipality in Limpopo, where corruption and tenderpreneurship are rife.

Mr Vos did not want to divulge what was contained in the voice notes received from the women, apart from the R5 million cash ransom.

Ms Skhosana is also diabetic and in need of her medication, “Things could take a turn for the worse health-wise if we don’t rescue them soon,” a hopeful Mr Vos told the Middelburg Observer.

Colonel Donald Mdluli told the paper earlier today that police remain hopeful that the women will be released unharmed.

He, however, declined to shed more light on possible suspects, saying the investigation is at a very sensitive stage.

Gerhard Rheeder

I have been a journalist for two decades, with numerous awards to my credit, both in photography and writing. A brief stint as researcher in the opposition offices of the Mpumalanga Provincial Legislature, honed my skills as specialist local government reporter, covering crime and courts.
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