A swift investigation has led a multidisciplinary team, tasked to investigate kidnappings in the North West wherein hitch-hikers were the main target, has proved to be fruitful.
In a statement, North West police said on Sunday they had managed to break a syndicate believed to be behind at least 12 cases in the Dr Kenneth Kaunda District.
“The syndicate which has been mostly operating in the Potchefstroom, Klerksdorp, Orkney and surrounding areas have been targeting members of the public who were hitch-hiking in these areas with their main target being mineworkers.
“The syndicate would lure unsuspecting victims from hitch-hiking spots under the pretense of transporting them to their various destinations,” the statement read.
The victim’s belongings would be stolen, followed by ransom payment demands that were made to their families for their safe return.
Authorities last Friday traced the suspects along the R502 linking Potchefstroom and Orkney.
Several items discovered
Two foreign suspects, aged 24 and 37, were found in a vehicle matching the description in a wanted case, where a post office employee was kidnapped nearly two weeks ago.
Police discovered several items belonging to a second victim in the car, the victim was reportedly kidnapped a day prior.
“The team immediately dispatched a search party to rescue the victim who was found at a stadium in Orkney,” the police said.
Further investigations identified addresses linking the suspects, police arrested another 57-year-old foreign national.
“At this address, police seized two other vehicles believed to have been utilized in the commission of other kidnapping cases as well as sixteen mobile phones believed to be belonging to victims in these cases.”
Police believe they have positively linked the suspects to 12 other kidnapping cases and did not ruled out the possibility they could be involved in others.
National Commissioner of the South African Police Service, General Khehla Sitole, has commended the team led by Provincial Commissioner in the North West, Lieutenant General Sello Kwena.
The three suspects are expected to appear at the Orkney Magistrate’s Court on Monday. They face charges ranging from kidnapping, extortion, armed robbery and possession of suspect stolen goods.