‘Movie-like’ Welkom kidnap drama: accused in court
Four men appeared in the Welkom Magistrates’ Court today after a kidnapping for ransom was foiled by police.
The 12-hour ordeal on Friday was ended by a team led by Welkom SA Police Service commander Brigadier Mzondi Mojafi in what one officer with knowledge of the kidnapping described as a “movie-like drama”.
Four men aged between 20 and 30 were arrested and face charges of hijacking, kidnapping and the possession of unlicensed firearms. Two guns, four cellphones, the ransom money and three cars were recovered.
Police spokesperson Lieutenant Puleng Motsoeneng said the suspects, who are still behind bars, will appear in court for a formal bail application next Monday.
The drama started at around 7pm on Friday after Samson Mlambo and a 16-year-old family member were kidnapped by two men at gunpoint.
Mlambo’s brother, Isaac Mashava, had received a call from an unknown man claiming he had clothes from an imprisoned family friend.
According to Welkom police, Mashava then asked his brother and the teenager to fetch the clothes for him but when Mlambo called the man near the spot at which they had agreed to meet, two armed assailants appeared and forced them to drive towards the neighbouring town of Odendaalsrus.
Mlambo and the 16-year-old were forced into a secluded area near the Tshepong mine outside Welkom and their hands were tied with wire.
After the kidnappers demanded a R30 000 ransom from Mashava, he reported the matter to police, who then assembled a team to help deliver the money and attempt to foil the kidnapping.
Mashava put the ransom in a bag and, with police escorting him, dropped the bag near a disused mine in St Helena, Welkom. A man wearing a blanket and a balaclava appeared and took the bag but police, who had been hiding nearby, cornered and arrested the man.
As the drama unfolded, the kidnappers’ getaway car drove by and a shootout ensued after the driver failed to stop and nearly ran over two cops.
Police shot at the car, forcing the driver to stop, about a kilometre away. The man, also armed, attempted to flee on foot but police managed to arrest him.
He had two bullet wounds on his thigh.
Mojafi then ordered the cornered suspect, to whom Mashava had delivered the ransom, to phone the other suspect who held Mlambo and the teenager hostage to tell him he received the money and to release the two.
Police rescued Mlambo and the teen at the secluded area but their kidnapper had already fled.
Police later spotted a suspicious car with two occupants and found it was the kidnappers’ getaway car. The suspects were arrested on Saturday morning.