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Business Owners Demand Police Protection Amid Kidnapping Wave in Gqeberha

Published March 14, 2024
2 months ago

The entrepreneurial spirit of Gqeberha, formerly known as Port Elizabeth, is being severely tested as business owners in the Nelson Mandela Bay region confront an alarming escalation in violent crimes, including kidnappings and extortion by criminal syndicates.

This year alone has marked a dark period for the business community, with at least two known cases of kidnapping igniting widespread concern. In the most recent incident, 58-year-old businessman Neal Ah-Tow was forcefully taken on 1 March right before he was set to open his fishery, a chilling reminder that nobody is immune.

The city, which prides itself on industry and commerce, is now gaining notoriety for these extortion schemes, shaking the confidence of those who've invested their lives in their work. Syndicates seem to be openly challenging law enforcement, operating with such boldness that rates of protection money, reaching up to R30,000 a month, have become a harrowing tax on survival for local business operators.

Despite statistics showing a slight decrease in kidnapping cases compared to previous months, the fear lingers, compounded by a lack of resolution to ongoing threats. The police force, while claiming to be vigilant and committed to tackling abduction cases, has so far failed to provide the concrete sense of security the business community is desperately pleading for.

Gqeberha's businesses demand more than statistics; they seek a protective presence that can break the siege mentality currently afflicting them day and night. This recent tide of kidnappings has highlighted the critical need for effective, responsive, and preventative policing strategies to restore safety and allow business owners to operate without the looming specter of violence and abduction.

As kidnapping becomes an all-too-common headline in Nelson Mandela Bay, the question remains: will the cries for help be met with the action required to safeguard the city's entrepreneurs and restore Gqeberha to its once-thriving economic status?

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