KwaZulu-Natal - Police have launched a search in Northern KwaZulu-Natal for 11 kidnapped women who are being held captive in a container in which they are said to be repeatedly raped, police have disclosed.
An Nkandla woman, rescued on Wednesday by Eshowe police during a ransom trap at a Durban bank, told police the women were in the container. She told police that one woman who had put up a fight had been shot dead by her captors.
The Provincial Tracking Team and the National Intervention Unit had been called in to help with the search.
A decision on whether to call in the police airwing to help with the search is to be made by the provincial commissioner.
Provincial police spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Vincent Mdunge, said the rescued woman had told police that 11 women were held captive by four armed men in a container somewhere in northern KZN.
The Nkandla woman was rescued on Wednesday morning when her kidnappers took her to a bank in Pinetown where she was to withdraw money which had been deposited by her family for her safe release.
Police said the woman was severely traumatised and social workers were counselling her.
It was impossible to question the woman about why she had not attempted to escape from the men once at the bank, because she was in a poor emotional state, a source said.
The men had demanded a R20 000 ransom from the woman’s family. Her family managed to raise R2 000 and alerted the police, who set up a sting. When the woman, who appeared to be severely dehydrated, thin and injured , went into the bank to withdraw the money, she was rescued by police. She told them her kidnappers were waiting in a car outside. No suspects were arrested.
Mdunge said it appeared the modus operandi of the men was to demand ransom from the captives’ families.
Mdunge said investigations had revealed that the 22-year-old woman had been held for 15 days.
“The woman had left her Nkandla home on September 12 and had gone to the Eshowe CBD for shopping. When she was done with her shopping she went to the taxi rank to get a taxi back home,” he said.
However, Mdunge said she was directed to a white taxi by a man with four men inside it.
After a short while the vehicle left the rank and on the way they picked up another woman.
“Instead of taking the usual route, the taxi took the direction to Empangeni and drove into the sugar cane fields,” he said, adding that the women were left there. “The taxi driver took off, leaving the two women being repeatedly raped by four men for hours.”
Mdunge said the women were then taken in a black Toyota Corolla into a dwelling with no windows or ventilation where they were raped again.
“While they were in the house the other woman tried to fight back and she was shot and killed on the spot,” he said. “The remaining woman was then taken in a truck to an unknown location where she was locked in a container with four other women. They were kept in the container and only fed once a day before being raped by four men.”
Mdunge said the rescued woman claimed that the four men would walk into the container wielding firearms and take turns raping them.
“On Tuesday, six more women were brought into the container, bringing the total to 11,” he said. “Police are investigating the matter and arrests are imminent.”
Police are appealing to anyone with information to contact Captain Ngobese at 078 668 1342 or Captain Mbambo at 083 737 0123.