SOUTH America may still be the kidnapping continent of the world, but Africa is catching up, experts say, and South Africans are increasingly becoming the target.
Nigeria, Mali, Chad, Algeria, Libya, South Sudan and the Central African Republic are kidnapping hotspots and the motivation is not just political, but often financial.
The targets are frequently businessmen.
“The number of South Africans kidnapped is increasing,” Institute of Security Studies researcher Martin Ewi said.
“But we don’t know whether they were kidnapped because they are South African or were just in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
It is difficult to know how many South Africans have been kidnapped as incidents are often kept quiet.
Africa’s kidnapping surge has been fuelled by the rise of Islamic extremism and criminal gangs who see it as a way of making money.
Over the past three years, criminal gangs have caused a kidnapping epidemic in Mozambique.
Across Africa, kidnappers’ methods change depending on the security situation in a specific country.