A rare move in investigation
Milon Hossain wanted to send his unemployed 21-year-old son Riaz abroad so that he could make a better living there. The father-son duo arranged with one Al Amin that he would send Riaz to South Africa in exchange for Tk 3 lakh.
Little did they know what awaited Riaz on the way.
In May last year, Riaz was trafficked to South Africa through five countries. Once he reached the destination, the traffickers held him hostage for a ransom.
The transnational syndicate released Riaz three months after receiving ransom worth Tk 6 lakh from his father on August 7, 2021.
Riaz's horrific trip to South Africa came to light after the Detective Branch (DB) of police started their investigation after Milon filed a case with Jatrabari Police Station on August 14, 2021, accusing three known and other unnamed members of the organised trafficking racket.
Meanwhile, sources said DB arrested four, including the three accused in the case -- Nur Alam (45), Al Amin (30) and Ruhul Amin alias Chanchal (46), and Shafiul Alam Chowdhury (38).
DB also found that Riaz was first taken to Dubai and then to Nairobi. He was then handed over to a Kenyan human trafficker named Ezaz Ahmed.
From Nairobi, he was sent to Swaziland, now known as Eswatini. He had to make another trip to Mozambique, where he was handed over to a trafficker named Sayeed.
Sayeed took Riaz to a bordering area in South Africa and handed him over to a Pakistani member of the syndicate, named Amir.
Amir informed Riaz's father of his whereabouts and asked for a ransom. Milon then deposited Tk 40,000 to an account number that was sent to him via arrestee Nur Alam's phone.
They asked for an additional $6,000, which Milon sent to Nur, who in turn sent the money to a Dubai-based Bangladeshi hundi trader Shah Alam. Later, Shah Alam deposited the amount to an account owned by one Zuned M Shivam.
After that, they freed Riaz in South Africa. DB contacted Lt Col T Moremi, an official of the kidnapping task team at National Crime Intelligence of South African Police Service, who informed them that a case was filed in this regard.
At least 8 to 9 Bangladeshi victims were kept hostages by the transnational trafficking gang.
On March 13, SI Mohammad Kamruzzaman of DB (Demra Zone), the case's investigation officer, applied to a Dhaka court for a visit to South Africa to get the victim's statement in the presence of a metropolitan magistrate.
The statement will be taken under section 164 of the Code of Criminal Procedure that will require a magistrate recording it. The judicial statement can be used in court.
Meanwhile, a five-member team -- led by a top DB official, along with a metropolitan magistrate of the CMM court -- went to South Africa on September 22 on a 10-day visit.
They will submit a complete report to the home ministry within 15 days of their return.
Dhaka Metropolitan Police is bearing the cost.
Law enforcers said this is one of the rarest cases where a metropolitan magistrate accompanied a police team abroad.
"The victim, in this case, would not return home anytime soon. We want to ensure punishment of the accused by taking statements from the victim as well as the witnesses in presence of a metropolitan magistrate," said Muhammad Asraf Hossain, deputy commissioner (DB Wari), a member of the investigating team who went to South Africa.