masterminded his kidnapping

Penwell Dlamini

Penwell Dlamini

In April police set a trap and rescued a man whose alleged kidnappers were demanding a R50000 ransom from his wife.

Two and a half weeks ago police set a trap to arrest a man selling fake driver's licences and arrested the man they rescued in April.

"We are now convinced that the man was the architect of his own kidnap," said Inspector Thinandavha Mulaudzi. "We are charging him with fraud and defeating the ends of justice."

Simon Sithole, 58, has appeared in the Wynberg magistrate's court and has been granted R1000 bail.

The men who allegedly kidnapped him in the first incident, Senzo Mbatha, 26, and Mhlaliseni Shezi, 25, were denied bail and have been languishing in jail since their arrest on April 22.

Their case has since been put back on the court roll and they will make their first bail application in the Wynberg magistrate's court on Tuesday.

"Police think the men could be innocent," Ayanda Bakana said yesterday. "They now believe the kidnap victim is a liar and fraudster.''

Mulaudzi said the dramatic events started three weeks ago when a man approached the Alexandra police and informed them of a suspicious driver's licence deal he was involved in.

"He said a certain man wanted to sell him a licence," Mulaudzi said. "But he also said he was suspicious because the number on a temporary licence he had received from the man was similar to the one the man had given to a neighbour."

He said the informant told police that he was due to pay and and collect the final document from the man.

"This was when we decided to set a trap and catch the licence seller when our men met him," Mulaudzi said. "We arrested him when we found him waiting in his car at the rendezvous. We are investigating exactly how he did all this."

Police found a fake R100 note, two fraudulent driver's licences and one temporary licence when they arrested Sithole.

The story in April was that Sithole had gone to the Carlton Centre in the Johannesburg city centre to complete a driver's licence deal.

He allegedly met Mbatha and Shezi and the two kidnapped him. They allegedly called his wife and demanded R50000 for his release.

At the time Constable Neria Malefetse told the Sowetan that a trap was set for the men and they were arrested and Sithole freed.

The men have appeared in the Wynberg magistrate's court several times and were denied bail.

Now police believe that the men may be innocent. They believe that Sithole was the mastermind of his own kidnapping and that the men may have believed they would get their money back from him when the ransom was paid.

The men were charged with kidnapping and attempted murder.

Mulaudzi said yesterday that after Sowetan had published the story about the kidnapping the police compiled a list of about 40 people who had paid R55600 to Sithole.

"All that Mbatha and Shezi wanted was their money, but Sithole was smart enough to use the police to escape his troubles," Mulaudzi said.