The Muslim Judicial Council (MJC) has expressed its concern over the spate of kidnappings of Muslim businessmen.
In the most recent incident, five men abducted Liyaqat Parker, 65, of Plattekloof, at his office at Stairway Close, The Greens, in N1 City, on Monday July 9.
Two weeks’ later, Mr Parker has still not been returned home.
The Cape Times reported that a Mozambican citizen, Momade Assife Abdul Satar, also known as “Nini”, arrested in Thailand last week, is suspected to be at the centre of an international syndicate kidnapping prominent South African businessmen.
However, police have refused to comment on the link. Spokesperson Brigadier Vishnu Naidoo said: “We do not comment on such matters as these are very sensitive issues. I cannot say if this person is indeed linked to any of these kidnappings. Due to the sensitive nature, and in respect of their families, we cannot comment on anything that could put their family members at risk.”
When the Athlone News contacted provincial police spokesperson Captain FC Van Wyk, he too refused to comment.
Mr Parker is the founder member of the Foodprop Group, which owns the Foodworld chain of supermarkets. He is also listed as a director of the FPG Property Fund and Brimstone Investment Corporation and is also a board member of Al-Amien Foods.
Captain Van Wyk said Mr Parker’s kidnappers, riding in a double-cab bakkie, had followed him as he had driven into the basement parking.
According to Captain Van Wyk, the kidnappers forced a security guard at the gate into a toilet at gunpoint, stole his phone and locked him up.
Then they went after Mr Parker in the basement, bundling him into their vehicle before driving off.
In July last year Sadeck Zhaun Ahmed, the owner of Zhauns Business Opportunity Machines, was kidnapped outside his business in Victoria Road, Salt River. Mr Ahmed was allegedly abducted by four men. He was eventually returned to his family in October last year.
In October 2016, Naushad Khan, who also goes by the name Naushad Deshmukh, was kidnapped outside his clothing store in Rylands as he shut shop for the day. He was found alive after he was dropped in Thornton on Wednesday December 28.
Mustapha Goolam was also a victim of kidnapping after he was abducted in December 2016 outside his shop, Food Town in Lotus River, also while locking up. A few days later police arrested three men after they traced Mr Goolam to a house in Khayelitsha.
Also in October last year, Zahid Chowdhury was nearly abducted in his driveway from his home in Heideveld as he was about to reverse his car to take his family shopping.
AwhiteVWGolfstopped behind them and a man jumped out and approached Mr Chowdhury, but he managed to break free and his wife’s screams scared the men away. The men instructed him to keep aside R500 000 as they’d be back to collect it.
Mr Chowdhury said the men returned to his house on Saturday November 4, but he was not home.
Sheikh Riad Fataar, second deputy president of the MJC, said that the Indian Muslim business community had become a target.
“We expect the police to do their jobs. We demand it because we are paying their salaries. The MJC has in the past put out statements that businessmen need to take care and take precaution, but, unfortunately, it is not something that can be foreseen.
“You cannot live in an environment where you don’t feel safe and don’t know whether you will make it to work or not. Where are the people who are supposed to make us feel safe in this country?” he said.
Athlone business owner Zaahir Paulse said he did not feel safe in the area.
He said he kept his doors locked because he feared becoming a target.
“We need more policing, I have never seen a van patrolling the area. It is sad that we are being targeted,” he said.
Athlone police spokeswoman, Sergeant Zita Norman said police had increased their visibility according to crime analysis patterns.
She said business owners were encouraged to hire more security.
“Close shop at an appropriate time and stick to business hours. Always make sure that there is more than one person at the shop and when you lock up,” she said.