Plattekloof businessman Liyaqat Parker, 65, has been safely returned to his family after being held captive for more than two months.
The news of his return broke on Tuesday September 18, after he was returned to his home the previous evening (“Family’s kidnap anguish,” Northern News, July 18).
Mr Parker was kidnapped from his place of business on Monday July 9 and bundled into a double-cab silver Hilux bakkie.
Family spokeswoman Kaz Henderson said Mr Parker had been safely reunited with his family after being held in captivity for over two months.
Ms Henderson said the family would not be granting any interviews at this time.
“The family is relieved that he is back and would like to request the media and public to respect their privacy during this difficult time.
“The Parker family wishes to express their sincere gratitude to everyone who has walked this journey with them and provided physical, emotional and spiritual support. It is truly appreciated,” she said.
During Mr Parker’s two-month ordeal, his family pleaded with the kidnappers for his safe return due to his ill-health.
Mr Parker is the founder member of the Foodprop Group, which owns the Foodworld chain of supermarkets, and was on The Friends of the Children’s Hospital Association for several years.
Provincial police spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel André Traut would not comment on the circumstances surrounding Mr Parker’s return.
He said on Friday September 21 that the case was still under investigation and that no suspects had been arrested.
Parow Community Police Forum chairman Roger Cannon said he hoped Mr Parker’s kidnappers would face justice.
“We, as the CPF, denounce that type of behaviour especially when it’s a hard-working person who steadily built up the Food World chain,” he said.
“Many times the kidnappers hold their hostages at residential homes and not in outlying areas. We sympathise with his family, as it is traumatic for any family to not know about the whereabouts of their loved ones,” he said.
He could not confirm whether a ransom had been demanded by the kidnappers or whether the family had paid one.
“We also urge families to work with the police to help them keep this type of crime at bay,” he said.
At the Parow CPF’s executive meeting on Tuesday September 18, Mr Cannon urged the public to report all crime so the police could build accurate pictures of crime trends.
Ewald Botha, spokesman for Community Safety MEC Dan Plato, said Mr Parker’s safe return seemed to have been the result of the apparent extortion of large sums of money from the family.
“This raises serious questions on SAPS’s role in combating and preventing kidnappings in the province involving prominent business people. Despite the safe return of Mr Parker, we need to unmask those responsible and ensure they receive their day in court to face the full might of the law. This will unnerve those contemplating similar crimes, because they will be caught and will go to jail,” he said.
Mr Botha said that had the police been instrumental in the return of Mr Parker, the Western Cape government would have been the first to congratulate them. However, he said the opposite seemed to be true.
“I believe that a ransom worth millions has been paid for the safe return of Mr Parker. Police have thus far remained tight-lipped about the investigation, leaving speculation to continue as to their involvement to return Mr Parker or capabilities to arrest those responsible,” he said
He said the department was concerned about the number of prominent businessmen who had been kidnapped.
Other reports claimed an alleged underworld kingpin had helped to negotiate the safe return of Mr Parker from a house in Kuils River and that the businessman had been released after a ransom of R4.8 million was paid.
(BLOB) Additional reporting Daily Voice