The seven “Grindr Gang” men accused of kidnapping and assaulting a Johannesburg student were arrested on 20 September (Photo: Brigadier Athlenda Mathe / Twitter)
The Johannesburg Magistrates’ Court has denied bail to the seven men who stand accused of kidnapping and severely beating a Johannesburg student who they targeted on the Grindr dating app.
The accused individuals, namely Sanele Ndlovu (26), Vikani Khanyeza (28), Sohollo Khumalo (26), Sphamandla Mavundla (33), Lungisani Mshabalala (33), Thulani Mazibuko (23), and Khayelihle Zulu (24), are facing kidnapping, attempted murder, and extortion charges.
They appeared before the court for a bail hearing on Wednesday. Acting Regional Court Prosecutor Adolphus Mukwevho expressed concerns regarding the potential danger that these individuals may pose to members of the LGBTQ+ community and others involved in the case.
Mukwevho pointed out that the accused are acquainted with the state’s witnesses. He further highlighted that the men allegedly made threats against the victim’s family, causing them to live in fear.
Mukwevho argued that releasing the accused on bail would undermine the proper administration of justice.
Support for the Victim in Court
The organisation Parents Families and Friends of the South African Queers (PFSAQ) has been actively monitoring the case and attending the court hearings.
PFSAQ’s Project Assistant Officer, Thabsie Mabezane, expressed satisfaction at the court’s decision to deny bail to the accused.
“We want safety for others who are looking for love on these apps. If the accused were released they might cause more harm. We just want justice for this gay child and their mother who is crying every day,” commented Mabezane.
PFSAQ has encouraged other LGBTQ+ organisations and individuals to attend court hearings and stand in solidarity with the victim. Mabezane stressed the need for mobilisation within the queer and LGBTQ+ community, emphasising the importance of collective support for the victim during the legal proceedings.
The Brutal Attack and Dramatic Rescue
The accused are alleged to have deceived the 18-year-old first-year student from the University of Witwatersrand by luring him into a fake date through Grindr in September.
They then held him against his will, subjected him to severe physical beatings, and demanded a ransom of R30,000 from his family. During their extortion efforts, the accused allegedly sent distressing images and videos of the victim, showing him naked, bound and badly injured, to his family.
When the victim’s roommate reported him missing on September 19, investigations led the police to an ATM where one of the accused was in the process of withdrawing the ransom.
That accused led officers to a men’s hostel in Denver, where the unconscious victim and the six other accused individuals were found. The victim was rushed to the hospital, where he continues to receive medical treatment.
It’s been alleged that the accused may have links to other so-called “Grindr Gang” cases. The matter has been adjourned until November 15 to allow for further investigations.