Videos sent by the Grindr Gang criminals to his family showed the terrified victim naked, bound and being threatened with torture
A 22-year-old Johannesburg man, who endured a harrowing five-day ordeal after being kidnapped by so-called Grindr Gang criminals, has been let go by his captors.
The victim, whose identity is being withheld for privacy reasons, was lured through the dating app under the pretence of meeting a student doctor on Thursday.
The supposed medical student arranged for an Uber to pick up the victim in the South of Johannesburg, transporting him to a location in Kensington, east of Johannesburg.
Upon arrival, the victim was led to a room by the alleged medical student. However, the situation took a dark turn when another five men and a woman stormed in, taking him captive.
Grindr Gang Ransom and Social Media Demands
The criminals, demanding a R50,000 ransom, sent graphic videos of the naked and bound victim to his family by accessing his phone. The perpetrators also resorted to posting threats on the victim’s own Facebook page, taunting and coercing money from his followers.
As the distressing events unfolded in real-time on social media, activists, including media personality Mavundla, gathered at Jeppe Police Station in Johannesburg to pressure law enforcement for swift action. Their objective was to trace the victim’s phone and secure his release.
On Monday, it was disclosed that the victim had been released and was at Cleveland Police Station. Mavundla and Virginia Magwaza, the founder of Parents, Families and Friends of the South African Queers (PFFSAQ), provided support at the station.
The victim was taken by the police to try to identify the location of where he was held captive. During the search of the area, he spotted one of the alleged kidnappers on the street, leading to the man’s arrest.
The traumatised victim spent Monday night in Mavundla’s care and on Tuesday he was collected by his family. “He is devastated. He hardly slept. He was not okay. Also, his family are not accepting of him and they were very aggressive and triggering him,” said Mavundla.
Critique of Police Response and Calls for App Security
Mavundla expressed deep dissatisfaction with the police’s handling of the situation, citing a lack of urgency and communication. Concerns about potential police involvement with the Grindr Gang criminals were also raised.
“After five days, the police still hadn’t tracked him down. The criminals work with the police,” alleged Mavundla. “Even the perpetrators told [the victim] that they were with the police.”
In the wake of continued attacks on the LGBTIQ+ community via Grindr, calls for enhanced app security and even a ban on its use in South Africa have emerged. Mavundla stressed the importance of Grindr implementing verification measures.
“Grindr should be doing something about the verification of people. It’s problematic that people can join Grindr without security measures. Until we find a solution for safety, let’s find ways to avoid using the app,” urged Mavundla.
She also called for government intervention, asserting, “Government must put pressure on the police. We must take it to the streets and make a statement that this needs to stop.”
Grindr Gang attacks have persisted in cities like Johannesburg and Cape Town, leaving queer individuals seeking connections through dating apps vulnerable to violence, threats, and theft. A recent high-profile case saw seven men arrested on charges of kidnapping, attempted murder, and extortion after kidnapping and beating a Johannesburg student.