Citizen Reporter
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2 minute read
2 Sep 2021
4:25 pm

Harmony Gold bar used to pay Free State woman’s ransom found

Citizen Reporter

On 7 November 2018, Charmaine Botha was abducted from her workplace and held hostage in a shack in Thabong, Welkom. 

Picture: iStock

Members of the Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFU) have made a major breakthrough in a Free State kidnapping case.

A Harmony Gold bar used to pay a ransom reward has been recovered.

On 7 November 2018, Charmaine Botha was abducted from her workplace and held hostage in a shack in Thabong, Welkom. 

Kidnappers then called her husband Johan Botha, who is also a Harmony Gold Mine employee in the Free State.

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They demanded a brick or a bar of gold for the safe release of his wife. 

Botha reported their demands to his employer and police. 

Harmony mine management then paid the kidnappers a bar of gold valued at R6.5 million and Botha’s wife was released thereafter.

On 07 November 2018, Charmaine Botha was abducted from her workplace and held hostage in a shack in Thabong, Welkom.
Picture: iStock

Police investigations led them to 10 people including Sechaba Seloana, John Taile, Wellington Sithole and Lovemore Ndlovu, who were subsequently arrested.

Seloana was found in possession of a Jeep, BMW, R580,000 in cash and 21 pieces of gold valued at R3.2 million. 

Sithole and Taile were found with R524,000 and R260,000 in cash respectively. Ndlovu had a Nissan Almera.

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Seloana and Sechaba have since admitted their roles in the kidnapping. 

The pair said they cut the gold bar into smaller pieces and sold them in Sebokeng. 

Seloana also identified the shack where they kept Charmaine and the farm where the bar of gold was melted and cut into smaller pieces.

The pair said they cut the gold bar into smaller pieces and sold them in Sebokeng.
Picture iStock

Judge Celeste Reinders, at the Free State High Court, has now granted an order for the AFU to seize the three vehicles, cash and remaining pieces of gold.

AFU advocate Eugene Ontong submitted that the Jeep Cherokee, BMW, Nissan Almera, R1.3 million in cash and 21 pieces of gold valued at R3.2 million were all linked to the ransom payment.

“Seloana and the others used the vehicles to transport gold from Welkom to Sebokeng. They knew the implication if the gold was found in those vehicles,” said Ontong. 

Seloana and others have been charged with kidnapping, extortion, illicit possession of precious metal and money laundering.

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