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February 21, 2019

Mother fakes kidnap to test family’s love

Fake kidnapping
Fake kidnapping

Even though we may not all broadcast it to the world, I suppose deep down, we all want to know what others think of us, if they value us and how much.

Even the most famous itinerant preacher in history - Joshua Emmanuel Christos - is reported to have asked his followers, “Who do people say I am?” probably in a bid to figure out his popularity and worth.

I know on social media many people, myself included, post memes that say we have reached an age or a point in our lives where we no longer care what the world says or thinks about us. But we should all know that social media is for public consumption, hence, for PR purposes.

Why else would we be upset when we think our employers are not paying us enough? Or that our friends and/or family don’t visit us enough or call us enough or buy us enough gifts, etc?

How we handle this neediness is what distinguishes us, I suppose.

Recently, a Cape Town woman, Shannon Lawrence, 36, wanted to know how much her family valued her and decided to carry out a little experiment to find out. She staged her own kidnapping and demanded a R10 million (about Sh76 million) ransom. The papers here in Cape Town are calling it the DIY kidnap.

She left her modest home in one of Cape Town’s more downmarket addresses on January 4, saying she was headed to the nearby shopping centre and never came back. It seems to have taken two days for her husband to contact the police over his wife’s disappearance, so one wonders if in Lawrence’s eyes, he had failed the test already.

Once the matter was reported to the police, Lawrence organised for a WhatsApp message to be sent to her daughter demanding the ransom and threatening that if it wasn’t paid the family would never see Lawrence again. The cops swung into action, setting up a Joint Operational Centre and  using the kind of technology some of us have only ever associated with cop films and TV shows, to locate the missing woman’s cellphone.

Now it would seem Lawrence had not thought through her DIY kidnap and this was to be her downfall. The police, with the help of a firm of high-tech private investigators, used a “super-surveillance gadget” called the Grabber.

Two days after she had been reported missing, the technology had pinpointed her phone to a house in a nearby estate, but she managed to dodge the police twice. However, on January 10 as police were getting ready to negotiate with her kidnappers, Lawrence was spotted by detectives at a nearby shopping mall, where she was arrested. She is now charged with kidnap, extortion and defeating the ends of justice.

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