R2.5 million ransom demanded after Zimbabwean tycoon abducted in Durban

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DURBAN, South Africa – Kidnappers have demanded a R2.5 million ransom after abducting a Zimbabwean businessman in Durban.

Evans Katumba, a fuel trader specialising in diesel, was snatched by men armed with AK47s on March 22 and has not been seen or heard from since.

In interviews with his friends, ZimLive has heard that his captors demanded ransom of R2.5 million on March 24 – and R1.5 million was paid. A promise to free him was not fulfilled.

“They demanded that one person should bring the money, and that police should not be involved. The money was dropped at an open field on the outskirts of Ballito, about 45 minutes from Durban. The kidnappers said they would release him after an hour, but that was the last communication they made,” a friend said.

The South African Police Service and the Hawks are investigating after a report was filed following the botched ransom settlement.

Katumba, who is in his 40s, is known to friends by his social soccer nickname, Vardy.

“He arrived in South Africa around 10 years ago and worked at a fuel service station before establishing his own fuel supply business,” a friend said, asking not to be named.

“He is a nice guy, a humble guy who helps a lot of people. He likes having fun and is always around nice girls, drives these beautiful cars and wears expensive clothes. You wouldn’t want to hurt that guy.”

Missing … Evans Katumba was abducted by armed men on March 22 and has not been seen since

In December last year, Katumba reportedly bought his latest luxury car as a statement of his business success – a R3.5 million Mercedes G63. Then in February this year, he bought Yugo nightclub – one of Durban’s top clubs and the venue of what would have been AKA’s last concert before he was murdered last year.

“A week after he bought Yugo, there was an attempt to hijack him while driving his G63. He was stopped by a police car and an officer came to talk to him, before returning to the police car purportedly to check something. While Vardy waited for the officer to come back, suddenly there were these random people trying to open the doors and he sped away,” a friend told ZimLive.

“He went to the United Kingdom and came back in early March to begin rebranding his club. Around the same time he also bought a Ferrari and an Amarok. He kept on receiving phone calls from people saying he must hire them as security and some saying he is a foreigner and can’t own a club in Durban. You have all these people from the underworld wanting a piece of it, some saying can we work with you, can we partner with you or can we do this or that.

“He was adamant that he would do everything his own way and that’s what he did. Some of us got concerned and we told him that his profile now requires that he has security at all times, but he decided against it.”

Luxury … Inside Yugo nightclub, now renamed Sky Premium Club after being bought by Evans Katumba

Last gig … AKA was due to perform at Yugo nightclub on February 10, 2024, but was killed just hours before the performance

Yugo, now renamed Sky Premium Club, re-opened on March 15 and the event went “swimmingly,” according to one of Katumba’s friends.

Then, on March 22, Katumba received a call from someone who wanted to meet. He left his Yellowwood Park home and along the way picked up an artist who was due to perform at his nightclub later that evening.

“The caller must be someone he knew because he didn’t suspect anything. When they got to the place where this meeting was supposed to take place they were met by these people armed with AK47s. They took him and the brand new Amarok which was yet to be installed with a tracker,” a friend said.

The artist who was travelling with Katumba was left at the scene.

“The abductors made contact two days later (on March 24) to say they want R2.5 million cash. They also warned that Vardy’s friends and family should not involve the police. Guys managed to raise R1.5 million and the kidnappers said they would release him after an hour, but after that cash drop there has been no communication. They haven’t made any further demands and the longer it goes you get really concerned for his safety,” the friend added.

A police report was finally made at Durban Central Police Station on March 25 under case number 1029/3/2024.

Source: ZimLive