On December 16th, 2018, In Delft, South Africa, the nine-year-old Linathi Titshala disappeared, as reported by IOL. She was walking to her home from her Grandmothers house after celebrating her birthday. Her family have not seen her since. 18 days went by without any news regarding her whereabouts. Then on January the 3rd, alleged kidnappers left a note on social media claiming responsibility for Linathi’s disappearance:
The kidnappers are demanding 5 Bitcoin (BTC) for the safe return of the nine-year-old. At the time of this writing, one Bitcoin is worth $4,087 USD, meaning the kidnappers are demanding a ransom of $20,435 U.S. dollars.
The message was sent to a group called ‘Western Cape Gangwatch’. Attempts are being made to track the IP address of the message as well as the bitcoin code. A spokesperson for Gangwatch has mentioned that the message may have been created at an internet café which enables automatic deletion. This means there is no use in tracking the IP address. Nevertheless, the investigation and search for Linathi is still ongoing. Candice Sobotker, from the Western Cape Missing Persons Unit, had this to say:
“We are pooling all resources including doing a search again in the coming week. There will be a search for Linathi on Monday, 7 January and Tuesday, 8 January, [from] 9am-4pm.”
Cryptocurrency and blockchain use is on the rise in South Africa. While this is good news for the country’s economic potential for growth it brings with it a plethora of issues. The anonymity granted by blockchain technology can be abused by criminals demanding ransoms in cryptocurrency. They can utilise the nature of the technology to receive finance without being tracked. The current kidnapping of a small girl is an example of this.
Hopefully, this situation will end with Linathi reuniting with her family once again.