The Moti Brothers Kidnapping
On October 20, around 7 AM, four young brothers, Zidan, Zayyad, Alaan, and Zia Moti, were on their way to Curro Heuwelkruin private school in Polokwane, Limpopo, South Africa, when chaos struck. Their 64-year-old chauffeur was driving his BMW on the R37 near the N1 bypass when suddenly two other vehicles – a black Mercedes Benz and a white Kia Sorento – blocked the way. In the cars were seven armed men who reportedly began firing rounds to show things were really getting serious.
The unknown individuals then forcibly removed the four youngsters from the van, loaded them into their Mercedes-Benz, and drove away toward the R81. Fortunately, a distraught but unharmed driver was left at the scene alongside his vehicle. The children’s cell phones were later recovered after they were found dumped at Flora Park.
The Moti brothers’ kidnapping sent shockwaves across the country. The children’s father, Nazim Moti, is the chief executive of Auto Moti, a car dealership in Polokwane, which has been in business for over a quarter of a century and his wife, Shanka Moti, is also a prominent businesswoman in the area. So one would think the clear motive behind the incident was financial gain. However, while the family’s lawyer, Philip Smit, stated they believed the kidnappers’ motive was ransom money, police said no ransom was demanded.
Still, authorities also kept quiet of many details and quickly advised people living in the area not to speak to the media. According to them, any published information about the missing brothers could jeopardize the investigation. However, it did not stop people from using every possible social media platform and plea for the safe return of Zidan, Zayyad, Alaan, and Zia. Muslim Community of Cape Town held a prayer for the boys led by the Mualiem Samaoen and Madrassa Islamia students at Springfield Terrace.
But slowly and at the same time so quickly, days changed to weeks, and there were still no signs of the Moti brothers. Sunday, November 7, marked the birthday of Zidan, who turned 7 in an unknown location without his parents being there to wish him a happy birthday. However, behind the scenes, behind all the quietness from the police and the media, something was happening. Actually, according to former leading police hostage negotiator Manie van der Merwe, silence is crucial and often means negotiations are ongoing:
“When there is a media blackout on such a high-profile incident, such as this one, it usually means some kind of resolution to the event is close.“
Van der Merwe was not wrong.
On November 11, three weeks after their kidnapping, police in Vuwani received a call from a local resident saying the children were at their house after being dropped off on a nearby road. Upon arriving at the scene, authorities were able to confirm the missing Moti brothers had indeed been returned unharmed. In their statement, the Moti family expressed their joy:
“We are thankful that they were set free, and when we received a phone call to fetch the children, we rushed to the scene full of hope. We are looking forward to healing as a family.”
The investigation into the kidnapping case is still continuing, and the police are asking anyone with any information to come forward via the SAPS Crime Stop number 086 00 10111 or via MySAPSApp.