Maputo — A gang of eight armed men on Friday afternoon kidnapped businessman Kishoor Chootalal on Filipe Samuel Magaia Avenue, in the heart of Maputo.
Chootalal, a well known member of the Maputo Hindu community, owns the shop “Casa Pandia” which sells the brightly coloured fabrics known as “capulanas”.
According to eye-witnesses, the kidnappers, using a Nissan Elgrand vehicle, intercepted Chootalal's Land Cruiser as he was returning to his shop, dragged him out, and bundled him into their own vehicle.
As they did so, the kidnappers fired into the air, to scare off bystanders. One of Chootalal's bodyguards tried to prevent the kidnapping, and was shot by the criminals. He was taken to Maputo Central Hospital for medical treatment.
One eye-witness, speaking on condition of anonymity, praised the bodyguard's courage. “The bodyguard was shot, but even so he chased the bandits”, he said. “They were wearing bullet proof jackets and they were all black. They escaped along Ahmed Sekou Toure Avenue, and as they did so they bumped into other cars”.
The kidnappers made off at high speed, bumping into several other vehicles as they did so. In these collisions the number plate of the Nissan (ADW 896 MP) was ripped off, which may help the police in their investigations.
This is the first abduction of 2014. A wave of kidnappings of businessmen, mostly of Asian origin, in Mozambican cities began in late 2011. Three trials of kidnappers last year, in which lengthy prison sentences, of between 13 and 17 years, were handed down, has clearly not proved sufficient to deter this form of organised crime.