Expert advice on how to handle being a kidnap victim amid concern over lack of resources to fight scourge

todaySeptember 27, 2023 90

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Former brigadier of the SAPS Investigative Psychology Section, Dr Gerard Labuschagne, has expressed concern over the lack of resources for police to deal with kidnapping cases adequately.

His comments come after Police Minister, Bheki Cele, revealed that the number of kidnappings have increased by about 200%.

According to the police, kidnappings increased from 3 832 incidents in 2013 to almost 11 000 cases in 2021, with Gauteng accounting for the majority of those cases.

The stats show that 3 641 instances were reported between January and March 2023, an increase of 10% from the same time in 2022.

However, Labuschagne says the actual number of kidnappings for ransom and extortion cases may be significantly greater than what is now reported to the police.

Research conducted by the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organised Crime, suggests that, persistent threats to the victims and concerns over their families’ well-being, even after release, might be behind the low reporting rate.


Organised criminal syndicates are said to be behind the kidnappings.

How is the SAPS handling this?

The police established an Anti-Kidnapping Task Team in November 2021 as a result of the rise in kidnappings across the nation.

According to the police, the team in the past two years has had some success, having looked into 134 ransom demand instances and making 124 arrests.

The Gauteng province has been pointed out as the epicentre of the kidnapping epidemic.

The recent kidnapping of an 18-year-old Wits University student, who was later found by police, brought this scourge back into the spotlight.

Seven suspects are in police custody over the matter and have been linked to a syndicate that has been targeting the LGBTQIA+ community through a popular dating app.

Tips on how to handle being a kidnapped victim:

1. Co-operate with the suspects and don’t fight back.
2. Focus on survival.
3. Try to connect with your kidnappers, but don’t pretend to support them.
4. Observe as much of your environment as you can.
5. Do not admit to accusations if you’re interrogated.
6. Prepare yourself to be held for a long time.
7. Wait to be rescued unless you are sure you can escape safely.
8. See a doctor for medical attention as soon as possible.
9. Report the incident to authorities.








Written by: Nonhlanhla Harris

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