On Thursday morning, billionaire Mohammed Dewji was abducted by masked gunmen as he entered the Colosseum Hotel and Fitness Club in Oyster Bay, Dar es Salaam, for his early morning gym work out. Some reports suggest he has been rescued and that four foreign nationals arrested. We are working to verify this.

An Uber driver waiting for a client nearby says he saw four masked gunmen carry out the abduction. According to the Daily Nation, the gunmen opened fire and forced their way in to the hotel as the security guards fled. They left shortly afterwards with Dewji, heading towards the Masaki neighbourhood. The Times quotes the police as saying the ‘gates to the gym had been left open for the gang.’

Footage from surveillance cameras suggests that at least two of the kidnappers are white. Reporting suggests the kidnappers are believed to be foreigners who have kidnapped Dewji to extort a ransom, and security at border crossings and airports has been tightened in response.

No security detail

Last year Forbes magazine claimed Dewji is worth $1.5bn. Despite this, the city’s Regional Commissioner Paul Makonda has said Dewji was not travelling with a security detail or bodyguards when he was abducted.

The BBC quotes a former employee as saying ‘despite his wealth and celebrity he is always incredibly relaxed in his approach to security, like the rest of the Dewji family. He never moved with security guards or bouncers and would often pop out to the gym on his lunch break or to meet with friends after work.’ The same article explains that Dewji was very well known and would often attract crowds when he went out and about.

Dewji owns a major Tanzanian football club, Simba FC, and he was an MP until 2015. Business Day notes that his company, MeTL, is one of the biggest in the country and ‘accounts for about 3.5% of the country’s GDP.

Sources

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