DAR ES SALAAM / NAIROBI (Reuters) – Africa's youngest billionaire, torn a week ago off the road in front of a luxury hotel in Tanzania, returned home unharmed after being released by his captors, he said today the police.
Mohammed Dewji, 43, managing director of the METL Group family conglomerate, was kidnapped as he arrived for a morning training in the commercial capital of Tanzania, Dar es Salaam, last week. Forbes estimates his net worth of $ 1.5 billion, making him the 17th richest man in Africa and his youngest billionaire.
Lazaro Mambosasa, commander of the police in Dar es Salaam, told Reuters that Dewji was abandoned by his captors in the Gymkhana area of the city at 2:30 local time.
Dewji had been kept in a home in an area where police were going to conduct a home-to-house search, he said.
"He was tied up legs, hands and face so he could not see, he could not identify the abductors during the period of imprisonment," said Mambosasa. He only had bruises on his hands and feet where they were tied.
"He told us that they treated him very well and fed him," he said.
Dewji's family had offered a reward of 1 billion Tanzanian shillings ($ 440,000) for information that would lead to his release, although it was not immediately clear how much the kidnappers had requested.
Speaking at a press conference, Chief Inspector General Simon Sirro said that Dewji had told them that the suspects spoke in English and "had made Swahili" and that a vehicle they had traveled on had foreign license plates.
"The good thing is that we communicate regularly with our Interpol colleagues," he told reporters.
Four weapons, including an assault rifle and numerous projectiles, were found in the car, which was partially damaged in a failed attempt to destroy the evidence, Sirro said.
On his Twitter feed, the METL Group quoted Dewji saying he had "returned home safe and sound," without giving any further details on how he was freed or removed from his captors.
The company also cited him by thanking those who had worked for his release, including the police.
His abduction had caused consternation in the nation of East Africa as one of its most important business leaders and had been a member of parliament in the past.
The METL Group is involved in a wide range of manufacturing, agricultural, transport, infrastructure, agrocombination and telecommunications companies covering 11 African countries.
Writing by Duncan Miriri; Editing by Aaron Maasho. Editing by Richard Balmforth