Beaten, Strangled and Robbed: New Grindr Gang Syndicate Cases in Durban


The LGBTQ+ community in KwaZulu-Natal is urged to be vigilant following new reports of several individuals being targeted by criminals on the Grindr dating app in the Durban area.

Last week, an LGBTQ+ individual in Inanda became a victim of the suspected syndicate after arranging to meet a man he connected with on Grindr.

Same Love Toti’s Kim Lithgow, chair of the Hate Crimes Working Group and a member of the LGBTQ+ Provincial Task Team, reported the incident to MambaOnline.

The traumatised survivor, who does not wish to be identified or speak directly to the media, agreed to allow Lithgow to recount his story to warn others in the community.

Strangled, Beaten and Robbed

The individual met the man on Grindr and initially went on a coffee date without incident. A few days later, on Wednesday 3 April, he agreed to go to his date’s apparent residence. As typically happens in many of these incidents, once he was inside, several other men appeared and held the victim captive.

“They tied him up, they strangled him and beat him. They took his phone and emptied his bank account. He really thought he was going to die. He had to give them all his passwords, everything,” said Lithgow.

“And then after a few hours, they let him go. He came away with no phone, empty bank accounts, and no way to contact anyone – not even through email because they had gone into his accounts and changed all the passwords. If they want to, they can approach his family and friends – they have all their details.

“He told me that they are so well organised, so well rehearsed. It was very precise and each person has a role. There was one guy to beat him up and another to go through his phone and so on,” related Lithgow.

The individual was briefly treated at the hospital for his injuries before being released. “He’s been left very traumatised and he’s now trying to get his life back.”

Challenges in Seeking Justice

Lithgow accompanied the survivor to open a case at the Inanda Police Station. She expressed shock at the initially callous and unprofessional attitude of officers, despite staff at the station being trained in LGBTQ+ hate crimes awareness and sensitivity in 2021.

“They were still asking inappropriate questions and making inappropriate comments. I had to remind them about their training and the police’s own standard operating procedures. They should be aware of it, which they clearly are not,” she told MambaOnline.

Lithgow said the survivor was grateful for her assistance as he was considering dropping the matter and walking out of the police station because of how he was treated.

While she noted that police had since been very responsive, she expressed concern that officers expected the traumatised victim to accompany them to the site of the abduction to identify the suspects, which he understandably refused to do.

Lithgow revealed she has now received reports of at least two other cases with the same modus operandi in the Inanda area and will forward these to the LGBTQ+ Provincial Task Team.

Ongoing Threats to the LGBTQ+ Community

South Africa has been plagued by an ongoing epidemic of violent and sometimes deadly abductions and robberies targeting members of the LGBTQ+ community on dating apps and sites for several years.

While most high-profile incidents are from Gauteng, four men were arrested last year in connection with 13 cases in the Durban area. They were charged with murder, robbery with aggravating circumstances, and kidnapping. One of their alleged victims, 43-year-old Kuben Kevin Archary, was strangled to death in a guest house in July 2023.

These incidents stand out as hate crimes because the victims are targeted based on their sexuality, are potentially more vulnerable due to social stigma, and because they are less likely to report the attacks out of fear of being outed, shamed, or facing secondary victimisation.

  • To read Mamba’s online dating and hook-up safety tips, click here
  • To read Grindr’s safety and privacy guidelines, click here

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