Grindr Gang Syndicate: Gay Man’s Harrowing Ordeal in Cape Town

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Queer individuals in Cape Town are urged to be extremely cautious after a man was held ransom and robbed by criminals who lured him to a meeting through the Grindr dating app.

After the loss of his spouse earlier this year, the victim turned to the dating app for companionship, intending to chat and perhaps meet for coffee.

He connected with a man online for four or five days before arranging to meet in person on 11 June at 11:30. Initially planned for a coffee shop in Sea Point, the location was changed to a spot on the busy Shortmarket Street.

The victim walked to the new meeting point, only to find the man absent. They continued communicating via WhatsApp, with the date eventually sending the man to a nearby location.

Upon arrival at a nearby apartment building on Shortmarket Street, the victim was led to the gate where he was ambushed by two men.

One of them began strangling him and forced him upstairs where they tied him up with his shoelaces and socks. He was stripped naked and filmed. Armed with a gun and a knife, they threatened to kill him if he resisted.

Threats, Terror and Theft

The assailants used the victim’s Face ID to access his bank accounts, only to find negative balances as his funds were held elsewhere. They then demanded money from his family, forcing him to text his sister. One of the attackers managed to withdraw R3,000 from his account.

During the ordeal, the attackers threatened to sell his body parts, starting with his testicles. They communicated with someone over the phone about the potential profit from his body parts and threatened to rape him.

Eventually, the attackers covered the terrified man’s head with a towel and left him tied up, waiting for someone to collect them. The victim managed to untie himself, found two sets of keys in the kitchen, and used one set to unlock the gates and escape.

Reporting and Indifferent Police Response

Seeking help, he encountered a traffic police officer who refused to assist, suggesting he call the police instead. His sister fetched him and took him to the Sea Point police station, where the captain directed them to the Cape Town CBD SAPS. There, he gave a statement and handed over the keys to the property.

The attackers had gained access to the victim’s social media accounts and changed his passwords, logging him out and blocking him. He eventually regained access to his iCloud but found the Find My iPhone feature disabled.

Despite informing the police about possible evidence at the crime scene, urging immediate forensic action, and being able to identify the location, he says he received no urgency from officers. The victim also requested that the police track his phone but was told that this required a court order and would take weeks.

The traumatised man is now receiving counselling to help him process the ordeal that he endured.

A National Crisis With No Sign of Ending

South Africa has been plagued by an ongoing epidemic of violent and sometimes deadly abductions and robberies targeting members of the LGBTQ+ community on dating apps and sites for several years.

While most incidents have been reported in Gauteng, four men were arrested last year in connection with 13 cases in the Durban area. They were charged with murder, robbery with aggravating circumstances, and kidnapping. One of their alleged victims, 43-year-old Kuben Kevin Archary, was strangled to death in a guest house in July 2023.

While most victims have reported being lured through the Grindr dating app, criminals also use other platforms including Surge and Facebook to target members of the LGBTQ+ community.

These incidents stand out as hate crimes because the victims are targeted based on their sexuality, are potentially more vulnerable due to social stigma, and because they are less likely to report the attacks out of fear of being outed, shamed, or facing secondary victimisation from the authorities.

Additionally, victims often receive uncaring and incompetent service from police officials who show little interest in taking prompt or effective action.

  • To read Mamba’s online dating and hook-up safety tips, click here
  • To read Grindr’s safety and privacy guidelines, click here

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