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My 162 days of kidnap hell in shackles and sweltering car boots

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My 162 days of kidnap hell in shackles and sweltering car boots

‘We need you for 30 minutes’ turns into 162 days of cat and mouse as Durban woman’s multimillion-rand hostage ordeal plays out

Reporter

Businesswoman Sandra Munsamy has named two of her captors, Michael and Gabriel. While the men were tasked with her safekeeping during her 162-day hostage saga, they were far from saints. 

The Westville mother of two took the stand in the Durban high court on Tuesday to testify against the four men accused of her 2019 kidnapping and attempted R154m extortion for her safe return.

Munsamy gave evidence via a camera link as her alleged kidnappers — Lucas John Ndlovu and Dumisani Radebe alongside Mozambican nationals Jose Omega Tembe and Arthur Da Silva Mondlane — sat motionless in the dock.

A recent investigation by Sunday Times Daily revealed Tembe and Mondlane were the kingpins behind two of SA’s biggest kidnapping gangs.

During her testimony Munsamy, the CFO of the multibillion-rand Crossmoor Transport family business empire, revealed how in a matter of seconds on the afternoon of May 30 2019, her cushioned life of Louis Vuitton bags, Gucci accessories and Range Rovers was ripped away and replaced with cross-country trips in the boot of a car, spending days in a room shackled with a chain by the ankle and with only a floor mattress to sleep on. 

She said on the fateful day she left her offices in Mariann Industrial Park, Pinetown, shortly before 6pm, heading to her residence in Westville. 

I was pushed into the boot of the Mercedes and the boot was closed ... It became very hot and unbearable. I thought I was going to die. 
Sandra Munsamy 

“The occupants from [a] white BMW, three men, jumped out of the car with balaclavas and guns. I put my vehicle in reverse and looked in my review mirror and noticed [a] Mercedes with GP registration behind me. The three men started running towards my vehicle. I put my hands up, I stretched my legs forward and I began to scream. After I screamed, I heard two gunshots and I opened the door.”

Disorientated and in a state of shock, she pleaded with the men to take her belongings and vehicle and let her go. 

Among some of the valuables Munsamy had with her at the time were three cellphones, a Louis Vuitton makeup case, a black Louis Vuitton purse, a pair of black Louis Vuitton hoop earrings, a black Gucci watch, a gold eternity ring with diamonds on it and a gold Louis Vuitton bracelet.

Shoved in the boot by ‘the gentlemen’

Munsamy was told she was needed for 30 minutes and would be dropped off at home once the tracker had been removed from her vehicle. 

“They tried to put me into the boot of the BMW,” she testified tearfully. “Because of my length I could not fit into the boot, but they continued to try bang the boot closed. That caused a blood clot on my leg, which is still evident until today. They moved me to the back seat of the BMW and three of the men sat on me and they took off.

“All of my jewellery was removed by the gentlemen who were sitting with me in the back seat as we were moving. After the jewellery was removed a black cable tie was put around my wrists.”

A few moments later the vehicle pulled over and Munsamy was shoved into the boot of the Mercedes.

“I was not aware of my surroundings and was very disoriented. We began driving and we stopped twice while on our journey ...

Clockwise from top left: Carlos Manuel Jardim Junior, aka Omega Temba; Artur Da Silva Mondlane; Lucas Ndlovu; and Dumisani Hadebe.
Clockwise from top left: Carlos Manuel Jardim Junior, aka Omega Temba; Artur Da Silva Mondlane; Lucas Ndlovu; and Dumisani Hadebe.
Image: Supplied

“During the journey I went unconscious and regained consciousness and [then] we arrived at our destination.. About five gentlemen with balaclavas surrounded the boot.”

A black cloth was placed over her head as she was escorted and placed in a room.

According to the indictment, Munsamy was taken to Tembe’s residence in Jackal Creek in Johannesburg.

“A lot of shuffling and movement occurred while they placed me in the room. I was then placed in the carcass of a cupboard.”

Michael and Gabriel

She said two men, whom she named Michael and Gabriel — presumably Ndlovu and Radebe — were placed in the room to look after her.

“It was very chaotic that night. These two gentlemen were up and down in the room. I asked one of them what time it was and he told me it was 1am on the 31st of May. They were with me during the duration of my stay of 162 days. I gave them the names Michael and Gabriel.”

Munsamy was given three continental pillows and a duvet to cover herself with as Michael and Gabriel slept on the floor near her that night. The next morning she was given a toothbrush, a onesie, a facecloth and a set of clothes.

The house where kidnapped Durban businesswoman Sandra Munsamy was held for six months.
The house where kidnapped Durban businesswoman Sandra Munsamy was held for six months.
Image: Jeff Wicks

“On my route to the bathroom I noticed the expensive tiles on the floor, a beautiful kitchen. I was put into the bathroom and the bathroom key was removed. I spoke to the ‘boss’ a day or two later. He told me he was going to call my family. They had been speaking to him and were giving him what he wants, and in two days’ time they were going to drop me off at home.”

That evening she spoke to a family friend, Phillip, via a WhatsApp call when Michael dialled his number and held the phone to her ear. Later she asked to speak to her brother Indren Naicker.

She said she had been instructed by the “boss” to tell her family not to alert the police and that she would be home in two days.

“The boss also reassured me that Indren had ‘sorted them out’. I was very anxious and waiting to go home. I got up in the morning I was meant to go home and got ready, but I was disappointed and very hurt that night because the promise was not kept.”

She said on the evening of April 4 she was told by Michael that they were going for a long drive. She was pushed into the boot of the Mercedes again.

I started sweating and screaming and I told them to stop the car because I couldn’t breathe.” 

Munsamys final stop was a home on 45 Wattle Street in Emalahleni, Mpumalanga, where she would be shackled to a wall with a padlock attached to her ankle, providing only enough length for her to move from a bed to a toilet and bath.

It was during her stay at this home where one of the bosses told her to call Indren and demand a ransom of $10m (R154m) after learning about their business accounts in Dubai and Mauritius. 

Munsamys testimony will continue on Wednesday. 

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