Mpumalanga Bitcoin kidnapping suspects to remain behind bars

Their first victim was the 13-year-old Witbank boy, who was snatched near his home in May last year as he walked back from a nearby spaza shop with a friend.

Part of the brazen kidnapping, which happened in broad daylight, was captured by a neighbour’s CCTV camera. TimesLIVE saw the footage, which shows the moment the boy was forced into a silver Toyota Corolla. The car sped off with him inside, while his friend watched in disbelief.

The boy’s parents went to the police station to report the kidnapping and returned to find a ransom note in their yard, in which the suspects demanded the equivalent of R1.5m in Bitcoins for the safe return of the boy. They threatened to kill him if the family did not comply.

A few days later, the boy was reunited with his family unharmed. Police have not disclosed whether any ransom was paid. 

Police suspect a similar modus operandi in the second case, when the suspects tried to kidnap a 13-year-old girl in Aerorand, Middelburg, on August 21.

“They dragged her into their vehicle, a VW Polo, but the girl shouted for help and was heard by a group of people working nearby, who helped her escape,” said Brig Leonard Hlathi.

“The suspects fled and later abandoned their vehicle with their belongings inside. During the investigation it was established that they had the same intentions as in the first case.”

The first suspect, aged 30, was arrested in November in Germiston, Gauteng. The second man, aged 31, was arrested in Ladysmith, KwaZulu-Natal, on December 30.

Hlathi said the cases were the first of their kind in Mpumalanga. 

Both suspects appeared in court this month in connection with the Middelburg case. They were granted bail of R1,000 each but remain in custody as a result of the Witbank matter.

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