JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – A criminal gang in South Africa who kidnapped a teenage boy on Sunday are demanding a ransom in bitcoin crytocurrency of nearly $120,000, police said.

A token of the virtual currency Bitcoin is seen placed on a monitor that displays binary digits in this illustration picture, December 8, 2017. Picture taken December 8. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

Katlego Marite, 13, was dragged into a car while playing with two friends near his home in Witbank, a town in the eastern province of Mpumalanga, on Sunday afternoon, police spokesman Leonard Hlathi said.

“They demanded that the family should deposit a sum of 15 bitcoins, not in rands,” he told news channel eNCA. “(The parents) don’t even know what these bitcoins are. They are not dealing in those things. They are in tatters as we speak.”

SAPS issued this photo of the missing teenage boy, Katlego Marite. Police said Katlego was dragged into a gold Toyota corolla. There were allegedly three occupants.

Although police in South Africa have reported a recent rise in kidnappings, the ransom demand in cryptocurrency appears to be a first.

In December, kidnappers in Ukraine received a ransom worth more than $1 million in bitcoins for releasing their victim – an employee of a British cryptocurrency exchange.

(Reporting by Tiisetso Motsoeneng; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)


Last month current affairs programme Carte Blanche investigated a kidnapping spree in South Africa – you can stream the show by subscribing to Showmax here (even if you’re overseas).

If you have any info, please contact Captain Africa Nyathi at 071 352 6007 or call Crime Stop on 08600 10111.