Tanzanian cops are grilling a dozen people they say may have information about the kidnapping of Africa’s youngest billionaire by an armed gang this week, according to a new report.
Three hotel workers and five security guards — who were manning the oceanfront Colosseum Hotel and Fitness Club in Dar es Salaam when 43-year-old Mohammed “Mo” Dewji was abducted on Thursday — are among those being questioned, local police told the Daily Nation.
Authorities are trying to determine exactly what happened — and nail down a motive for the brazen abduction.
A taxi driver who witnessed the ordeal told the Daily Nation that four masked men fired in the air and forced their way inside the hotel — prompting the on-duty guards to run away.
Then the raiders bolted from the hotel with Dewji — who was entering a gym at the time — and peeled off with him inside the car, toward the Masaki neighborhood, the driver told the outlet.
He had no security guards with him at the time, reports said.
“Initial information indicates he was kidnapped by whites traveling in two vehicles,” regional governor Paul Makonda said on Thursday, according to The South African. “This kind of incident is new here.”
Dewji has a net worth of $1.5 billion and is Tanzania’s only billionaire, according to Forbes. He is the CEO of METL, a conglomerate founded by his father in the 1970s focused on textile manufacturing, flour mills, drinks and edible oils.
Dewji is also a major sponsor of Tanzania soccer team Simba SC and served two terms in Tanzania’s parliament, retiring in early 2015.
In 2016, the married father of three vowed to donate at least half of his earnings to philanthropic causes.