Kidnap mafias' turf war hots up with highway hit
Man shot on M1 believed to be trafficking syndicate boss who broke away to form his own group
An apparent turf war between rival foreign kidnapping syndicates is believed to be behind the brazen murder of a motorist at the Glenhove offramp on the M1 in Johannesburg on Wednesday evening.Majeed “Manjla” Khan, 52, was stuck in peak-hour traffic at 5.25pm when two gunmen shot out the tyres of the Audi A5 Khan was driving before shooting him eight times.Witnesses told police the killers had been travelling on the M1 South in a white Hyundai Elantra.
Police spokesperson Captain Marvin Masondo said: “They stopped their car and walked across to the centre of the road and then crossed into the northbound lanes where they walked up to the victim, who was stuck in traffic, and shot him. After the shooting they walked back across the highway and got into their car and drove off.“We believe they were not operating alone and that there was someone who was following the victim who gave the killers information on which route he was driving. It happened in broad daylight in the middle of rush-hour traffic.
“We are appealing to anyone who saw what happened, or what the gunmen look like, to contact the police urgently.”
Sources close to the police investigation said this had been the fourth attempt to kill Khan. “He survived three other attacks over the past couple of years. All of the attacks … were in response to Manjla breaking away and forming his own group.”
Khan was allegedly one of the leaders of a powerful kidnapping and human-trafficking syndicate, which specialises in the snatching of foreign business people in South Africa.Five years ago he allegedly broke away from another syndicate, which operates out of Mozambique’s capital, Maputo.
“This is about taking over turf,” said the source.
But Masondo said the motive for the murder was still unknown.
“Witnesses have told detectives that there were two people involved in the shooting. However we cannot rule out the possibility that there were more people on the scene who were involved.”Police conducted an early-morning raid in Rossettenville, Johannesburg on Wednesday, during which seven people were arrested in connection with three kidnapping incidents in Gauteng.
At one of the addresses, an Eldorado Park victim, kidnapped on April 16, was rescued.
The suspects are linked to three kidnapping cases. One of the victims was kidnapped in Cullinan on April 8 and released nine days later. Another was taken in Alberton on March 7 and released on April 8.
Khan’s murder follows the kidnapping and subsequent release of Polish businesswoman Barbara Wadolowska last Friday after an estimated €2-million ransom was paid for her freedom.
Wadolowska, whose kidnapping sparked a secret international police operation, was held for nearly a week after she was snatched outside her Sandton hotel.
Her release follows this week’s appearance, in an unrelated kidnapping, of four Pakistanis in the Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court. The men are allegedly senior members of Khan’s rival syndicate.
They allegedly kidnapped Pakistani businessman Ijaz-ur Rahman Ilyas Mohamed shortly after he arrived in South Africa last month.