Durban – An Indian businessman who has been held hostage for 22 days by kidnappers demanding a R1 million rand ransom was rescued by police on Tuesday morning.
Seven suspects were arrested after raids by the National Intervention Unit, Magma Security Investigations and Himeville Police at a flat in Sol Harris Crescent, North Beach, and a house in Shelly Beach.
Police recovered R40 000 in cash and banking details which revealed the syndicate had a substantial bank balance.
Mosein Patel, 25, an Indian national, was found chained to a bed in a rented house in Shelly Beach.
He had been tortured, starved and threatened with death, police spokesman, Colonel Vincent Mdunge, said.
Patel who arrived from Gujurat with his mother, Fatima, and three brothers, in 2007, ran a family-owned supermarket in Himeville.
Mdunge said the syndicate – which comprised mainly Pakistani nationals – were known to kidnap victims and extort money to send to their families in Pakistan.
He said it was unclear how many cases they were linked to.
The seven are expected to appear in the Himeville Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday on charges of kidnapping, theft and attempted murder.
A traumatised Patel said he was kidnapped on July 1 when two of the gang – dressed in police uniform – arrived at his shop, wanting to question him.
“They accused me of being illegally in the country. They demanded my passport and visa. They then told my family they were taking me to the station for questioning,” Patel said.
He said five minutes into the journey he was assaulted and the suspects demanded contact numbers for his family.
Mdunge said the family did not call the police at first.
“They paid R100 000 into the syndicate’s bank account (on the same day). But they did not release the victim. It was only then that police were alerted.”
He said a task team had worked for 22 days trying to track down Patel and the syndicate.
“With the help of Magma Security Investigations we eventually managed to bust the syndicate at 3am. The victim was found chained to a bed.”
Magma Security Investigations head, Shaheen Suleiman, said they received information about Patel’s whereabouts late Monday night