South Africa: Two Arrested for Kidnapping Boy, Demanding Bitcoin Ransom

Two people have been arrested by police in Mpumalanga, South Africa in connection with the kidnapping of a 13-year-old boy in Witbank whose family was then told to pay the equivalent of $120,000 in bitcoin (approximately 32.89 BTC at press time).

South Africa’s Times reports that following the May 2018 kidnapping, the South African Police Service (SAPS) created a special task team to deal with the hitherto unprecedented threat of kidnappers attempting to facilitate their criminal activity using cryptocurrency’s relative anonymity.

Speaking to the Times, SAPS Brigadier Leonard Hlathi said: These cases were the first of their kind in Mpumalanga and a task team comprising of different units within the South African Police Service was immediately established by police management to investigate this matter.

On May 20, the victim was snatched on his way back from a shop with his friend. The kidnappers grabbed and forced him into a silver Toyota Corolla and sped off in broad daylight while a neighbor’s CCTV camera captured the kidnapping. The boy’s parents – who at the time did not even know what bitcoin was – came home to a ransom note demanding bitcoin worth 1.5 million rands.


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