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Shocking Surge in South Africa Kidnappings Marks Troubling Trend

Published September 21, 2023
8 months ago

The swelling trend of kidnappings in South Africa has left citizens anxious about their safety. The chilling ordeal of Maggie Skosana and her driver Gugu Mtsweni in Nkangala last October is emblematic of this societal malaise. Masquerading as law enforcement officers, men in balaclavas hijacked their car, forcing them into a seven-day hostage nightmare.

This incident reflects a bigger picture as crime data from the South African Police Service (SAPS) reveals that kidnap cases surged by nearly 200% over the past decade. From 3,832 instances in 2013, the figure rocketed to almost 11,000 in 2021. The first quarter of 2023 saw a further 10% uptick compared to the equivalent period in 2022.

The Global Initiative Against Transnational Organised Crime’s 2022 South Africa risk assessment pinpoints an ascendancy of transnational organised crime syndicates in this disturbing uptick. These conglomerates often target foreign nationals operating businesses in the country, although experts also spot an increasing number of local victims held for less substantial ransoms.

To tackle this scourge, the SAPS launched the Anti-Kidnapping Task Team in November 2021. Gaining ground, they’ve investigated 134 cases of ransom demands, resulting in 124 arrests to date. Despite these efforts, residents express a simmering disquiet, notably in Gauteng, where over half of the total cases were reported.

Exacerbating the distress is the exponential rise in kidnappings in Gqeberga in the Eastern Cape province. Authorities attribute this to opportunistic criminals lured by the perceived low-risk and high-reward nature of the crime.

This national anxiety stems from the country’s stark socio-economic disparities and rampant corruption. The high unemployment rate among the youth worsened by the soaring cost of living has ultimately culminated in these wrongdoings as a demoralizing means of survival.

For victims of these crimes, the road to recovery remains steep. Survivors like Skosana, haunted by their past ordeals, clamor for heightened security measures and a more robust criminal justice system.

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