Nairobi, Kenya | THE INDEPENDENT & AFP | Tanzanian billionaire Mohammed ‘Mo’ Dewji, who was abducted over a week ago, has been found and is safe back home, a family member has confirmed.
In a Saturday 3.15 am tweet on the MeTL Group handle, Dewji said, “I thank Allah that I have returned home safely. I thank all my fellow Tanzanians, and everyone around the world for their prayers. I thank the authorities of Tanzania, including the Police Force for working for my safe return.”
Details of how he was found are yet to be released by Police, but last night Tanzanian police said they had identified a driver in the billionaire kidnapping incident. A few hours later, his father Gullam Dewji told The Citizen and Mwanachi that Dewji had been found.
His uncle, Azim Dewji told Mwanachi the kidnappers had released him early Saturday 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 at the Mwanachi website, adding that his nephew was in good health.
The footage also showed a tired-looking Mohammed Dewji, in a tee-shirt and jogging trousers, thanking the police.
Dar es Salaam police chief Lazaro Mambosasa told Mwanachi that he had already spoken with Dewji, who had told him that his abductors spoke an African language.
Who is Dewji?
Dewji, 43, who is considered Africa’s youngest billionaire, was seized by gunmen as he entered a hotel gym in Tanzania’s economic capital Dar es Salaam Thursday morning last week.
Dewji is chief executive of MeTL Group, Tanzania’s largest homegrown company with Revenues of more than $1.5 billion, employing more than 24,000 people and with a presence in 12 countries in Africa. It has interests in agriculture, insurance, transport, logistics and the food industry.
Dewji is also the main shareholder in Tanzania’s Simba FC football club.
He was a member of parliament from 2005 to 2015, and in 2013 became the first Tanzanian to feature on the cover of Forbes magazine. Two years later, he was named Forbes’ Africa Person of the Year.
According to Forbes, he is worth $1.5 billion (1.29 billion euros) and ranks 17th on the list of African billionaires.
His family had offered a reward of half a million dollars (435,000 euros) for information that would help police find him.
“I thank Allah that I have returned home safely. I thank all my fellow Tanzanians, and everyone around the world for their prayers. I thank the authorities of Tanzania, including the Police Force for working for my safe return.”
— Mohammed Dewji
(3:15AM, Dar es Salaam)
— MeTL Group (@MeTL_Group) October 20, 2018
Friday press conference
Tanzanian police had said Friday they had identified the driver of a vehicle used in the kidnapping of Tanzanian billionaire Mohammed Dewji.
Police chief Simon Sirro told a press conference that surveillance videos at the hotel had captured images of the vehicle used by the kidnappers, a dark blue 4X4.
— The Citizen Tanzania (@TheCitizenTZ) October 20, 2018
“We have been able to identify the vehicle. So we have advanced a lot in our investigation, we will publish these photos,” he said.
“On top of that we know this car entered the country on September 1 from a neighbouring country,” Sirro added, refusing to name the country.
“We already have the names of the vehicle’s owner and the driver.”
Sirro said he would send Tanzanian police to the neighbouring country in question, without giving any details.
He said that of 27 people arrested eight were still in custody.
The opposition had called for independent international investigators to take over the probe, citing an increase in kidnappings and attacks in which no one is ever brought to book.