The family of a 43-year-old African billionaire offered $330,000 in return for information on his whereabouts on Monday after gunmen kidnapped him from a luxury hotel in Dar es Salaam, the capital of Tanzania.
According to police who spoke with CNN, armed men abducted Mohammed Dewji after he completed an early morning workout at the hotel gym around 6.30 a.m. The assailants, believed to be foreign nationals, reportedly entered the gym through gates that were left open deliberately. After bundling Dewji into a car, they opened fire at the hotel before driving off.
“They came in a car to the hotel and started shooting in the air before they took him away,” the commissioner said. “We are questioning the staff who were on duty at the time.”
Local police have since arrested over 20 people in connection with the abduction, although the motive for the kidnapping and Dewji’s whereabouts remain unclear. Many initially believed that his kidnapping was an attempt to obtain a ransom, although no requests for money have yet been made.
@BillGates please help us to make the world know that in #Tanzania we want the culprits to #BringBackMo
We pray and demand the safe return of @moodewji
We know that you know him ☺️ pic.twitter.com/2Oj1C9ihDI
— Maria Sarungi Tsehai (@MariaSTsehai) October 12, 2018
At a press conference on Monday, Dewji’s family offered a one billion Tanzania shillings ($440,000) in reward for information that leads to his rescue.
“The family is offering a reward of a billion [Tanzanian] shillings to any person who has information leading to the whereabouts of our son,” said Dewji’s uncle Azim Dewji. “We want to assure anyone with the information about the whereabouts of our son to come forward and we will treat their information as secret.”
According to Forbes magazine, Dewji has an estimated net worth $1.5 billion and is the country’s only billionaire, as well as the continent’s youngest. He made his fortune by turning his company, MeTL, from a local family business into a pan-African conglomerate. He has also served for a decade as an MP for the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM).
Kwa mtu yeyote mwenye taarifa ambazo zitasaidia kupatikana kwa mwekezaji wetu Mohammed Dewji anaweza kuwasiliana na familia ya Dewji kwa namba 0755030014, 0717208478 na 0784783228 au kutuma barua pepe firstname.lastname@example.org pic.twitter.com/oMz22cXnsm
— Simba SC Tanzania (@SimbaSCTanzania) October 15, 2018
Dewji, known locally as “Mo,” is a widely popular figure in Tanzania, having set up his own charitable foundation aimed at “poverty in Tanzania.” As such, he was known to regularly travel without security, with Tanzania’s security better than many of its African nations.
The hashtag #BringBackMo has also begun trending on social media, with Tanzania’s home affairs minister Kangi Lugola declaring that “the police will never rest until the culprits are brought to book.”