21 October 2018

Tanzania: Critical Questions Remain Unanswered After Release of Mo

Photo: Supplied
Mohammed Dewji (file photo).

Dar es Salaam — Yesterday's finding of billionaire Mohammed Dewji, who had gone missing for nine days, brought his search to a halt, but provided no clue yet as to who was behind his ordeal and why.

It is the single most important question that pre-occupied the minds of most people in the week, and is unlikely to die soon, even as an evident sigh of relief greeted the news of Mo's safe return.

Neither the family nor the police gave clear-cut answers yesterday on the matter, with Inspector General of Police Simon Sirro only telling reporters that the businessman told them the unknown abductors demanded money from him.

Mr 'Mo' as he is popularly known was scheduled to address the media later in the day but the plan was abruptly called off. His father Mr Gullam Dewji said his son was exhausted and needed enough time to rest before he could speak to the media.

Pictures of the businessman who was abducted on October 11 as he went into Colosseum Hotel fitness club for a workout were shared on social media by those who saw him shortly after arriving home.

He is seen in grey trousers, a striped tee-shirt and white sandals. His hair was long and his beard unkempt. Social media users also noted his demeanour was uncharacteristic of the sporty enthusiast who is also the Simba Sports Club chairman.

Environment and Union Affairs minister January Makamba said on his twitter account that he had spoken to Mo and revealed he had scars on his wrists and legs, perhaps and indicator that the abductors tied him down.

The question about who exactly was behind the brazen abduction in Oyster Bay suburb, and near the homes of top government officials and other VIPs, still haunted the police, with IGP Sirro defending the way they have handled the matter so far.

Mr Sirro said Mo did not know his abductors as he was blindfolded and driven to an unknown place until yesterday when they dumped him at Gymkhana Club at around 2.45am.

The police chief did not say if Mo's family, which had pledged Sh1 billion for information leading to his whereabouts, had parted with the reward or gave in to any other demands or otherwise.

Mo told Police, according to Sirro, that the kidnappers demanded cash but were hesitant to call his father's number when given.

"All indications are that the abductors were foreigners. We are told that they were speaking English and very little Swahili," Mr Sirro told reporters at the scene where Mo was dumped.

The IGP was at pain to explain efforts they had taken to look for Mo and warned unnamed people he said were using social media to mudsling the police and accusing them of bangling investigations.

Since Friday morning, when Mr Sirro revealed a Mozambican registered vehicle was used during the abduction, he has come under attack after it appeared the photos of the Toyota Surf did not look like CCTV images as claimed by the IGP.

The vehicle was also supposedly dumped on Ocean Road near the Gymkhana Club - an exclusive area not very far from State House, and usually teaming with armed plaincloth security officers.

Inside the vehicle, Mr Sirro said an AK47, 3 pistols and 35 bullets were found. He said the suspects who attempted to set it on fire have not been found. "We will get them," said the IGP. "We already have the identities of the owner of the vehicle and the driver. Before they released Mo we were very close on their tail."

Earlier, Mr Mo's family spoke of their relief and thanked the police and President Magufuli for helping bring back their kin. The businessman's uncle Azim Dewji said Dr Magufuli had directed his security organs to ensure Mo was found.

"Mo is 100 per cent fit, he looks fine, only that he may be in trouble psychologically because of the experience," he said in an interview.

News of Mo's finding begun to filter in at around 3am and was confirmed to The Citizen by his father Gullam Dewji. Police said the businessman used a phone from a civilian to contact his family.

The younger Dewji later tweeted using the MeTL's twitter handle at 3.15am to thank those who had rallied behind him during the 10 days of his ordeal under his tormentors.

"I thank Allah that I have returned home safely. I thank all my fellow Tanzanians, and everyone around the world for their prayers. I thank the authorities of Tanzania, including the Police Force for working for my safe return," twitted Mo in his very first words following the ordeal.

Just as it was when he was abducted, the news of him back home spread first on social media as delighted and prayerful commentators cheered him back, some urging him to reveal who his abductors were.

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