Husband reunited with his family after ordeal
A Johannesburg father was rescued and safely returned to his anguished family after going missing for several hours in Pretoria following a string of bizarre events which allegedly resulted in him being held against his will and robbed.
Details are still vague as to exactly what businessman Bryan Port was doing in Pretoria on Sunday afternoon in his white Toyota bakkie while his wife, Adina, couldn’t reach him after he didn’t come home.
What is clear is that the religious father of two went missing for several hours, causing panic and fear amongst his family and close-knit community in Glenhazel, Johannesburg, who feared the worst.
Alarm bells went off after Port sent a couple of cryptic WhatsApp messages to his wife late on Sunday afternoon when she tried to reach him. She immediately sensed something was off, and that Port might be in some sort of danger.
“He sent a strange message using some words in Hebrew, and said he was with his friend CAP. He also used the word neshek [weapon],” she said this week.
She immediately alerted the Community Active Protection (CAP) and the Community Security Organisation (CSO) who, together with a multitask team comprising the provincial Serious and Violent Crimes Unit of the South African Police Services, mobilised a search for the missing father.
News of his disappearance spread fast, and worried members of the community prayed for his safe return.
Following intense detective work and a major team effort, Port was finally tracked down several hours later driving home alone in his car on the highway after the suspects gave him back his keys and vehicle and let him go.
The details remain hazy, but Port is thankful his nightmare is over.
“I’m relieved it’s over, and I’m grateful for the help of CAP, the CSO, and members of the police,” he told the SA Jewish Report.
He said he was hijacked and kidnapped on Sunday morning by four suspects, including a woman, near the Philip Nel Park in Pretoria. He said he had been there to attend a car show. When he arrived, he said, there was no sign of the show, so he pulled over to the side of the road and searched for details on his cell phone, thinking that perhaps he had got the directions wrong. It was then, he said, the suspects approached his vehicle and held him up with guns.
“They forced me to drive a short distance away to a nearby complex where I was taken to a little room at the back,” he told the SA Jewish Report.
He said the suspects threatened him to reveal the pin numbers to his credit cards.
Two suspects then made off with his credit cards, he said, while two others stayed behind and kept watch over him.
As a risk manager at Rand Merchant Bank, he said he had received training on how to behave during this type of incident.
“I was actually calm, I knew what was happening, what would happen, and how the day would pan out. They made me lie on the bed and face the wall, they didn’t tie me up,” he said.
He told the SA Jewish Report that he didn’t ask questions, did what he was told to do, and remained calm. At one point, after his phone kept on ringing, he said, he asked if he could send his family a message.
“They said I could WhatsApp as long as they could read the message before sending it. I used the word CAP, and the odd Hebrew word such as neshek, kartis [card], and kesef [money] to try hint that I had been kidnapped and that the robbers had my credit cards and were taking money,” he said.
It’s understood that two of the suspects went to the Mall of Africa and purchased high-end electronic devices such as laptops, cell phones, and air time as well as lunch, which they brought back with them sometime later, said Port.
Port said it was about 20:00 when the robbers drove him to a nearby shopping centre, gave him the keys to his vehicle, and let him go. He said he was disorientated and stranded without a phone, the rest became a blur as he said he tried to remember the telephone numbers of his loved ones whom he knew would be worried. After locating his vehicle in the parking lot of the centre, he said he got onto the highway to make his way home.
It wasn’t long before he saw blue flashing lights in his rear-view mirror and realised he had been found.
CAP Chief Operating Officer Sean Jammy said this type of incident was extremely rare. It was understandable that the community was concerned following the recent incident in Gallo Manor involving a mother who was hijacked and dropped off shortly thereafter, and the ongoing high-profile Moti brothers kidnapping and hostage drama in Polokwane.
However, he said kidnapping for ransom in the community was extremely rare, and hijackings with kidnappings for immediate cash rewards were isolated and not on the rise, according to the organisation’s records. There had been less than a handful of incidents like this experienced by the community over a 10-year period.
“We have gone back through our records for the past decade, and we don’t believe there has been any noticeable increase to suggest there is a rising trend [in this method],” Jammy said.
He cautioned people to be sensible about their behaviour, not to be flashy and draw unnecessary attention to themselves, and to make sure that members of their family are aware of their whereabouts and the approximate time they are due home.
“It’s also helpful to install tracking apps on cell phones. One must remain aware of one’s environment at all times and remain cautious,” he said.
The incident is still under investigation by police.