Zimbabwean Businessman Found Dead In Durban
17 April 2024
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Evans Katumba, a Zimbabwean businessman who has been missing since his abduction in Durban on March 22 has been found dead, police informed his family.

South African investigators believe Katumba, who was in his mid-30s, was killed on March 24 shortly after the family paid R1.5 million ransom in a bid to secure his release.

Police were called to Hammarsdale, a township 50 kilometres west of Durban last week after the discovery of human remains in a field.

The family faced an anxious wait as DNA tests were conducted to confirm if indeed the remains were those of Katumba, who ran a thriving diesel brokerage business and had recently purchased Yugo, one of Durban’s top nightclubs.

“It’s him, police have confirmed to the family. They think he was shot on the same day we handed over the ransom money,” a relative who asked not to be named told ZimLive on Tuesday.

The family suspects Katumba knew his captors and for that reason they could not let him live, even after they paid R1.5 million of the R2.5 million ransom the kidnappers initially demanded.

Colonel Robert Netshiunda, the spokesman for Durban police, asked for more time to respond to our enquiries over their investigation into Katumba’s abduction.

Nicknamed Vardy by friends for his goal scoring prowess in social soccer, much like the Leicester Football Club striker, Katumba arrived in South Africa over 16 years ago and initially worked as a truck driver for various companies in Durban.

After a stint as a petrol attendant, he set up his own fuel trading company in 2018.

Described by friends as “a nice guy” and “very humble”, Katumba soon hit the big time as his business thrived. He rewarded himself with luxury vehicles including a R3.5 million Mercedes G63, a Ferrari and a sprawling mansion in Durban’s Yellowwood Park neighbourhood.

Katumba’s decision to take over Yugo nightclub in February brought him unwelcome attention, according to friends. The nightclub, now renamed Sky Premium Club, had only opened for one week when he was abducted.

He was preparing to go to the nightclub on March 22 when he received a call at around 8PM, his family believes from someone he knew. The person wanted a meeting.

He left home driving his brand new VW Amarok and picked up an artist who was due to perform at the nightclub that night before heading out to meet the mystery caller.

“When they got to the place where this meeting was supposed to take place they were met by people armed with AK47s. They took him and the Amarok which was yet to be installed with a tracker,” a friend said.

The artist who was travelling with Katumba was left at the scene.

The abductors made contact with Katumba’s family two days later on March 24. They warned the family not to cooperate with the police and then demanded R2.5 million in cash. Katumba, the kidnappers said, would be released within an hour after the ransom payment.

Katumba’s friends and his family raised R1.5 million which was dropped at an open field on the outskirts of Ballito, as instructed by the kidnappers. After the cash drop, the family never heard from the kidnappers again.

Police have told the family they believe Katumba met his death on the same day the money was paid – March 24.

News of Katumba’s death has stunned friends and left his family distraught.

“He was an inspiration to the Zimbabwean community here in Durban, a shining light,” a friend said. “He helped countless people through all manner of personal challenges. I hope whoever did this is caught and they pay for what they have done.”