South Africa: Police Investigating Syndicate Suspected of Targeting LGBTIQ+ Community

22 September 2023

Harare — Seven men were arrested by Gauteng police in connection with the kidnapping an 18-year-old student from Wits University using the gay hookup app Grindr and holding him for ransom, EWN reports.

The men are also connected to 86 other crimes involving members of the LGBTI+ community, including lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender persons, queer people, and intersex people.

The student was reported missing on September 19, 2023 by his roommate, which prompted the authorities to investigate.

According to police spokesperson Brenda Muridili, a team of police and other agencies detained a man at an ATM, as he attempted to withdraw the R30,000 ransom paid by the student's family.

The suspect was taken in for questioning and led authorities to a Denver men's hostel, in the east of Johannesburg, where the student was found bound and unconscious.

Murudili said six other individuals were detained and the student was taken to hospital. All seven men have been charged with kidnapping and extortion, and are expected to appear in court soon.

Vision Tactical, a security and surveillance company, has advocated for the banning of Grindr in light of the worrisome increase in cases in which victims have been enticed to locations before being physically assaulted, robbed, and held hostage.

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