A wealthy Cape businessman who was allegedly kidnapped has contacted his family to tell them his abductors are demanding a whopping 20 million pounds (R335 million) for his safe return, sources say.
Two separate sources involved in the investigation have confirmed this “ridiculous” figure to the Daily Voice.
It is believed the snatchers are foreign, and a time and place for the ransom drop-off has been arranged.
Naushad Deshmukh, 46, was said to have called his Constantia home on Wednesday night just after 8pm.
The father of three was allegedly abducted in front of his clothing and jewellery store, Khans, in Hadji Ebrahim Crescent, Athlone, on Monday as he was locking up just before 6pm.
According to a 51-year-old female witness, five armed men — two with rifles and three with handguns – shoved him into a white 4×4 double cab bakkie.
The woman, who is a manager at Khans, was left behind and just her handbag was taken.
On Wednesday, it was claimed on social media that Naushad’s body had been found in Somerset West.
But cluster chairperson of the Mitchells Plain CPF, Hanif Loonat, has confirmed that Naushad is alive.
“The family members received a call from Naushad yesterday evening… We therefore are confident he is alive and in captivity,” Loonat wrote on Facebook yesterday, before deleting the post.
When the Daily Voice contacted the family last night to verify the ransom, they denied receiving the call.
A spokesperson says: “This phone call never happened. People must stop spreading rumours. We’ve heard nothing yet.”
But according to the Daily Voice’s source, Naushad said he had been beaten up and “tortured, but was in good spirit, and this was obviously said to keep his family calm”.
It’s also believed the kidnappers are foreign nationals, “because come on, who asks for British pounds? It’s a ridiculous amount of money,” says the insider.
The source adds of the phone call: “He was not allowed to speak for long.”
The frantic family, who have remained tight-lipped, lashed out at death reports circulating on Facebook.
A relative, Fara Raja, posted: “The rumours going around are greatly distressing and have upset the family and caused unnecessary anxiety for his wife and children. Please refrain from spreading rumours. Whatever you hear is not true, when the family has information, we will let you know.”
But while the call came as a relief, the family now has to figure out how to get the money, (over R335 million) to the kidnappers, a source close to the investigation says.
The source believes the ordeal will end soon.
“I believe he is still alive and will be returned to his family after the ransom is paid. A time and date is set and now all we do is wait,” he said.
However, police spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Andrè Traut said last night: “There have been no new developments and the investigation continues.”