Africa’s Youngest Billionaire Freed After Abduction in Tanzania
Africa’s youngest billionaire, who was abducted over a week ago outside a luxury hotel in Tanzania, has returned home safely, the family conglomerate that he runs said on Twitter on Saturday.
Africa’s youngest billionaire was kidnapped on Thursday (Oct 11) by gunmen in Tanzania’s economic capital Dar es Salaam.
Mr Mohammed Dewji, 43, who heads the MeTL Group which operates in about 10 countries with interests in agriculture to insurance, transport, logistics and the food industry, was snatched as he entered the gym of a hotel in the city.
“I have returned home safely,’” the METL Group Twitter account posted. The company also quoted him as thanking those who had worked for his release, including the police.
The post did not provide details about how he was freed or whether a ransom had been paid. Forbes estimates his net worth as $1.5 billion, making him Africa’s 17th-richest man and its youngest billionaire.
Mr. Dewji’s family had offered a reward of 1 billion Tanzania shillings ($440,000) for information leading to his release.
The country’s minister of environment said that the kidnappers had freed Mr. Dewji by dumping him in a field in the early hours of Saturday morning.
“I thank Allah that I have returned home safely. I thank all my fellow Tanzanians, and everyone around the world for their prayers. I thank the authorities of Tanzania, including the Police Force for working for my safe return.”
— Mohammed Dewji
(3:15AM, Dar es Salaam) pic.twitter.com/I2OUHvjpwv
— Mo Dewji Foundation (@DewjiFoundation) October 20, 2018
Dar es Salaam’s regional police chief, Lazaro Mambosasa, confirmed the release and said the authorities were investigating, The Associated Press said.
“We got information that the abductors used the same car that was used to seize him at the Colosseum Hotel and dumped him,” Chief Mambosasa said, according to The A.P. “We found him there physically fit, and we suspect that the abductors are South Africans because he said they were communicating in one of the vernacular from that country.”
The kidnapping of Mr. Dewji, who has served as a member of Parliament in the past, caused consternation in the East African nation, since he is one of its most prominent business executives.
Mr. Dewji had been kidnapped by two masked gunmen as he arrived at the hotel for a workout, the police said Thursday. The men fired into the air before driving away, Chief Mambosasa said.
He told the local news outlet Mwananchi that the police had 12 suspects in custody, including the hotel’s security manager, The A.P. said.
The environment minister and Mr. Dewji’s former colleague in Parliament, January Makamba, tweeted on Saturday morning that he had spoken with him and that he was safe.
Mr Mohammed Dewji, 43, heads the MeTL Group which operates in about 10 countries with interests in agriculture to insurance, transport, logistics and the food industry.