Africa’s Youngest Billionaire Abducted In Tanzania

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Written by Ann Brown

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Mohammed Dewji, Africa’s youngest billionaire at 43, was abducted last week by armed men in Tanzania and his family is offering a $440,000 reward for information leading to the businessman’s rescue.

The Tanzanian tycoon was grabbed on Oct. 11 by two gunmen as he arrived at the gym of the Colosseum Hotel in Dar es Salaam. The police said they think the abductors were foreign nationals who drove into the hotel in the Tanzanian capital and opened fire before bundling Dewji into a car and speeding off, CNN reported.

The motive for the kidnapping is still unknown and there has not been a ransom demand.

Eyewitnesses said masked men arrived in two vehicles and parked outside the hotel before Dewji got there around 5 a.m., the EastAfrican reported. “A taxi driver said that as Dewji drove in, two white men got out, seized him, forced him into one of the cars and sped away while shooting in the air. The Dar es Salaam police chief said footage retrieved from the hotel’s security cameras was not clear.”

“The family would also like to assure any person(s) giving information that all of this will remain strictly confidential and shall stay solely between person(s) and the family,” according to family spokesman Azim Dewji.

Dewji has a net worth of $1.5 billion. He leads the METL Group, which his father founded in the 1970s. Operating in six African countries, METL Group has major holdings in textile and food and beverage manufacturing businesses on the continent.

Youngest Billionaire
Mohammed Dewji, Member of Parliament, United Republic of Tanzania | Photo Credit: Bo Li/Africa Renewal

 

Dewji has made his own mark in business and he has been involved in politics.

Popularly known as Mo, he launched the Mo Cola beverage brand to compete with Coca Cola in 2014. In 2016, Dewji signed The Giving Pledge, promising to donate at least half his fortune to philanthropic causes, CNN reported. He also served two terms in Tanzania’s parliament before resigning in 2015 to spend more time running the family business. Dewji has a 49 percent stake Simba Sports Club and runs the Mo Dewji Foundation, which provides scholarships to high school graduates looking to go to college.

Tanzanian authorities are trying to find the billionaire and have made several arrests. The day after this kidnapping, 30 people were held by the police for questioning in connection with the crime, the EastAfrican reported.

Witnesses described the armed kidnappers as “white men,” according to Dar es Salaam Special Zone police commander Lazaro Mambosasa. Sources close to the investigation told The EastAfrican that foreigners were most likely working with locals.

Kidnappings are not common in Tanzania. Regional Governor Paul Makonda told Time magazine, “This kind of incident is new here.”

Dewji was born in Tanzania and studied at Georgetown University.