Kidnapped Flight School Students Brought Back to Safety
The Egyptian Embassy in Pretoria, South Africa announced that two kidnapped Egyptian students in South Africa had been released unharmed and reunited with their families on Friday.
Momen Haitham Kamel and Fady Said Mahmoud, two student pilots at ATIS Aviation Academy in Gauteng province in northeastern South Africa, were kidnapped on 14 May.
In a statement on its official page on Facebook, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry said that the students have been released following intensive efforts pursued by the Egyptian embassy in cooperation with relevant authorities in South Africa, including security bodies and senior government officials.
Meanwhile, Egypt’s Ambassador to South Africa Ahmed El-Fadely received the two students after they were freed and reassured their families that they are in good health.
Fadely said the embassy had preferred to deal with the matter discreetly without attracting media attention to ensure the safety of the kidnapped nationals and secure their safe and smooth release.
He added that any leaked information could have endangered the lives of the two students.
The ambassador thanked the South African authorities for their cooperation with the Egyptian side regarding the issue, noting that such act of solidarity testifies to the robust ties binding the sisterly African nations.
Source – Egyptian State Information Service
Further information from Local South African Media – The Citizen
“Muwmin Hitham Kamel Gaber (19) and Fadi Said Elhadi Mohamed Hamond (31) both student pilots from a flying school in Vereeniging near Roshnee were kidnapped last month.
“Their rented vehicle was found abandoned along the R59 road and the suspects reportedly demanded a ransom for the safe release of the victims,” police spokesperson Colonel Athlenda Mathe said in a statement.
According to Ahram Online, the Egyptian embassy in Pretoria was working with the South African authorities and ATIS Aviation Academy to free the two Egyptian students, Minister of Emigration and Expatriate Affairs Nabila Makram said.
Haitham Kamel Gaber, Momen’s father, published a video on Facebook asking Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi to save his son and his friend Fady.
A 72-hour activation was initiated by South African authorities to rescue the two students.
A source close to the investigation told The Citizen the suspects who kidnapped the students made contact with representative of the victims on Friday instructing them to drive towards a shopping centre in the South Johannesburg for a drop off of ransom money for the release of the students.
“They were instructed that the money will be dropped near a shopping centre and victims will be released.”
According to the source, the victim’s representative then proceeded to the shopping centre and awaited further instructions from the kidnappers.
A call was later received and the representatives were instructed to drop the money off under a rock at a location, south of Johannesburg.
“The drop was done and he was then instructed to return to the shopping centre and await further instruction regarding the release of the boys. Later instruction was given to the representative to proceed to the Maraisburg area where the boys will be released near a garage.”
“Members placed themselves strategically around the area for observation and awaited the release of the victims. A call was then given with instructions on where to find the boys further down in the Maraisburg area. The vehicle used by the suspects was spotted by members of the team and a takedown ensued,” said the source.
The source said the vehicle was intercepted on the N1 after Malinbongwe and two suspects were apprehended.
According to anti-crime activicst Yusuf Abramjee, more arrests are expected.
Abramjee also said the alleged suspect is a drug kingpin from the south of Johannesburg.”
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