A 47 year-old Pakistani man, who is believed to the mastermind behind a plot to kidnap children of high profile businessmen in Pietermaritzburg, made a brief appearance in the Pietermaritzburg Magistrate’s Court today (Monday) facing charges of conspiracy to kidnap.
Asif Mohammed was arrested by two undercover police officers in a joint operation by the Pietermaritzburg Director of Priority Crimes Investigation (DPCI), the KZN Electronic Surveillance Unit and the Intelligence Collection head office on Friday afternoon at his business premises on Church Street.
State prosecutor Rene Padayachee asked that bail be opposed for the following reasons: to verify if Mohammed is in the country legally, the seriousness of the offence, and the safety of state witnesses. “The accused had told the undercover agents that a ransom of R5 million was to be asked for once they had the victim.”
The two police agents from the Multi-Dimensional Crime Intelligence (MDOC) obtained the last evidence regarding the planned kidnapping of the son of a Pietermaritzburg businessman.
Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi spokesperson for the Hawks said, several undercover operations were conducted where the suspect allegedly gave a detailed description of his first target, the safe house where the victim would be held as well as other electronic tools that would have been utilised during and after the alleged kidnapping.
“The suspect allegedly provided detailed plans of how the kidnappings would be executed and how to use the instruments, before the kidnapping was foiled by the Hawks and Crime Intelligence early intervention. The suspect was arrested at his business premises. Additional arrests and charges are possible in the ongoing investigation.”
A police source close to the investigation said Mohammed was the ‘main brain’ behind the conspiracy to kidnap. “Mohammed gave the undercover agents a packet with about 20 international sim cards which would have been used to execute the planned kidnapping. He wrote the name and details of the first victim and gave precise details on how the kidnapping would be carried out,” said the source.
Mohammed will be held in custody at the New Prison until his formal bail application on October 15.