Abducted Tanzanian billionaire Mohammed Dewji returns home after abduction ordeal

Tanzanian tycoon Mohammed Dewji thanked the authorities for his safe return. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

DAR ES SALAAM/NAIROBI (REUTERS) - Africa's youngest billionaire, snatched a week ago off the street outside a luxury hotel in Tanzania, has returned home safely, police said on Saturday (Oct 20).

Mr Mohammed Dewji, 43-year-old CEO of the METL Group family conglomerate, was seized as he arrived for a morning workout in Tanzania's commercial capital Dar es Salaam last week. Forbes estimates his net worth at US$1.5 billion (S$2.07 billion), making him Africa's 17th richest man and its youngest billionaire.

Dar es Salaam police commander Lazaro Mambosasa told Reuters that Mr Dewji was abandoned by his kidnappers in the city's Gymkhana area at 2.30am local time.

Mr Dewji had been detained in a house in an area where police were set to search as part of a house-to-house investigation, he said.

"He has tied legs, hands and face therefore he could not see. He could not identify the abductors throughout the period of captivity," commander Mambosasa said, adding that Mr Dewji was unharmed apart from bruises on his hands and feet where they were tied.

"He told us that they treated him very well and gave him food," he said.

Mr Dewji's family had offered a reward of one billion Tanzania shillings (S$600,000) for information leading to his release, though it was not immediately clear how much the kidnappers had demanded.

"I have returned home safely," METL Group quoted him as saying on its Twitter feed, without providing more details about how he was freed or got away from his captors.

The company also quoted him thanking those who had worked for his release, including the police.

The seizure of Mr Dewji, who has also served as a Member of Parliament in the past, had caused consternation in the East African nation as he is one of its most prominent business executives.

METL Group is involved in a diverse range of manufacturing, farming, transport, infrastructure, agroprocessing and telecoms businesses spanning 11 African countries.

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