Kidnapped Tanzanian billionaire set free, back home

Mr Mohammed Dewji was kidnapped on Oct 11 by gunmen in Dar es Salaam.
Mr Mohammed Dewji was kidnapped on Oct 11 by gunmen in Dar es Salaam.

DAR ES SALAAM/NAIROBI • Africa's youngest billionaire, snatched more than a week ago off the street outside a luxury hotel in Tanzania, has returned home safely, the police said yesterday.

"I thank Allah that I have returned home safely. I thank all my fellow Tanzanians, and everyone around the world for their prayers," Mr Mohammed Dewji said in a tweeted message. "I thank the authorities of Tanzania, including the Police Force, for working for my safe return."

His father, Mr Gullam Dewji, confirmed his son's release in comments to the Tanzanian daily Mwanachi.

His uncle, Mr Azim Dewji, told Mwanachi that the kidnappers had released him early yesterday in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania's economic capital. "His abductors abandoned him and he was able to phone his father," he said in a video posted on the Mwanachi website, adding that his nephew was in good health.

The footage also showed a tired-looking Mr Dewji, the 43-year-old CEO of the METL Group family conglomerate, in a T-shirt and jogging trousers, thanking the police.

Dar es Salaam police chief Lazaro Mambosasa told Mwanachi that he had already spoken with Mr Dewji, who had told him that his abductors spoke an African language.

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 was tied legs, hands and face, therefore he could not see. He could not identify the abductors throughout the period of captivity," Mr 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.

The tycoon was kidnapped on Oct 11 by gunmen - said to have been white - as he entered the gym of a hotel in Dar es Salaam.

The Tanzanian police said last Friday they had identified the driver of a vehicle used in the kidnapping and were making progress in their investigation.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on October 21, 2018, with the headline 'Kidnapped Tanzanian billionaire set free, back home'. Print Edition | Subscribe