EDITORIAL: Scourge of abductions must be stopped now

Sunday October 21 2018

 

There is a big sigh of relief following a harrowing nine days during which Tanzanians have had to come to terms with the shocking abduction of prominent businessman-cum-philanthropist Mohamed ‘Mo’ Dewji at dawn on October 11.

The 43-year-old was finally released and returned home safely yesterday. But at the end of it all, the questioning and soul-searching continues for a nation gripped and shaken by this uncommon wave of crime.

By and large, the dramatic abduction of the 43-year-old Tanzanian billionaire businessman may arguably amount to a heinous crime of the times – considering that this is not the first or only crime of its kind in Tanzania in recent years.

Mo may have fallen victim to this senseless criminality based on his wealth and popularity after serving as a member of parliament from 2005 to 2015. At his young age, he heads the MeTL Group which operates in about 10 countries with interests in agriculture to insurance, transport, logistics and the food industry.

Dewji is also the main shareholder in Simba FC football club, and according to Forbes he is 17th on the list of Africa’s billionaires, and worth $1.5 billion. All this says a lot about why he can be a target of criminal elements within our community, and those from beyond our borders. Interestingly, the nation does not know yet who did this to Mo and why it was done.

As far as members of the public are concerned, noone asked for ransom. More so, the businessman’s family revealed that no one came out to provide any useful information that could have helped the find Mo at the height of the search -- despite the Sh1 billion reward offer.

A big, mind-boggling puzzle

In a nutshell, the Mo abduction case has remained one big, mind-boggling puzzle. Just like many of such disappearances; except that in this case the one who went missing has been found after a nightmarish nine days. Yet it quickly and sadly reminds many of us of the long list of ‘the others’ who went missing without a trace.

We have had the mysterious disappearance of the main opposition Chadema cadre Ben Saanane (who vanished without trace in November 2016), and Mwananchi journalist Azory Gwanda, who has been missing for eleven months now since November 2017 – also without a trace.

Not only that. Unknown assailants pumped no less than 16 bullets into opposition firebrand Tundu Lissu in Dodoma on September 7, 2017 – which failed to kill him, and he is still receiving medical attention in Belgium...

Investigations into these three incidents – and several others – are still ongoing, and there is no reason to believe that the perpetrators will ever be ‘found’ and brought to justice. Nor is it certain that Saanane, Gwanda and the other ‘missing’ Tanzanians will ever be found alive – if at all.

What are saying? This is very bad for Tanzania, implying as it does that the country is no longer entirely safe for investors, tourists, entrepreneurs, opposition politicians, journalists – the lot!

This cannot be allowed to continue. This is why we are once again urging the government to indeed do much better to soonest root out once and for all criminal elements of this nature – whoever and wherever they are in our midst.

Such a bad reputation as a country in which people regularly disappear without trace is not ideal. Something should be done to address this scourge. A good starting point would be ramping up efforts to secure the release of those still missing.

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