South Africa: Three Detained After Kidnappers Demand 15 Bitcoin Ransom to Free Teen

Jordana Sacks
  • Three people have been detained following the kidnapping of 13-year-old Katlego Marite from Witbank, South Africa.
  • His abductors are said to have demanded 15 bitcoins in exchange for his release.

Three individuals have been arrested in connection with the kidnapping of Katlego Marite, a 13-year-old from Witbank, South Africa. The criminals demanded a 15 BTC ransom in exchange for the victim’s safe return.

The teenage boy was abducted on Sunday May 20, and police are currently pursuing a lead from a former colleague of Katlego’s mother, who rushed to the house after hearing of the child’s abduction from locals.

The man was able to show the family CCTV footage from his neighbor’s property, which depicted the moments immediately before and after the youngster was forced into a Toyota Corolla, which took off at speed with the boy in-situ.

Miriam Marite’s colleague made the decision to pursue the vehicle, which was later discovered nearby. The 13-year-old’s mother relayed that:

“He said to us, ‘Let me drive quickly to the location to go to different taverns and where they drink’, and as he was there, [at a place] they call Lunchbox, he called us and said he has seen the car.”

Miriam Marite

According to Mrs Marite, her family, members of the community crime watch group, and police all rushed to the scene, where three men were discovered in a car much like the one in which Katlego had been abducted. All were immediately taken into custody. However, Brigadier Leonard Hlathi clarified that none of the suspects in question have been arrested or charged, although it remains unclear whether or not they have yet been released. Their vehicle also remains in police possession.

On the day of the abduction, the family report that a ransom note was received by them. Threating to hang and decapitate Katlego unless a fee was paid, it demanded the delivery of 15 bitcoins in exchange for the boy’s safe return. The ransom note read the ransom was "non-negotiable."

Mrs Marite shared the difficulties this had caused them, for not only does this sum equate to a substantial sum - around R1.5 million - but the family wasn't even entirely sure of what bitcoin was until the concept was explained to them.

Although it remains unclear whether the exchange was made, or why exactly the family was targeted, breaking reports suggest that Katlego has now been found alive and well.

Featured image from Max Pixel