Africa’s youngest billionaire Mohammed Dewji snatched by gunmen in Tanzania

Industrialist was arriving at a plush hotel for his morning workout when two armed ‘foreigners’ grabbed him

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 11 October, 2018, 6:09pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 11 October, 2018, 10:23pm

A Tanzanian businessman and former member of parliament for the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi party (CCM) was seized by unidentified men in Dar es Salaam on Thursday, the regional commissioner said.

Mohammed Dewji, owner and president of the multibillion-dollar revenue Mohammed Enterprises Tanzania Ltd (MeTL Group), was abducted after he arrived for a morning workout at a luxury hotel in the country’s commercial capital.

Dewji is Africa’s youngest billionaire.

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Dar es Salaam regional commissioner Paul Makonda said the businessman was kidnapped by two men as he entered the hotel.

“They fired a gun and then they opened the gate,” Makonda said, adding that security personnel were searching for Dewji.

The armed men were foreigners, the Swahili Times reported on Twitter, citing Police Commander Lazaro Mambosasa.

Witnesses, including the guards manning the gate at the hotel, were being questioned, he said.

“I’ve spoken to his father and the news of the kidnap of our friend Mo is true,” State Minister for Environment and Union Affairs January Makamba said on Twitter. “Mohammed has a family and young children. Help us by giving information that will help with his rescue.”

Dewji, 43, was elected to parliament on the CCM ticket but did not seek re-election for his seat in the 2015 election.

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MeTL is one of Tanzania’s biggest companies and accounts for about 3.5 per cent of the country’s gross domestic product, according to its website. It has more than 30 factories making consumer products ranging from bicycles and detergents to edible oil and drinks. Other investments cover the agriculture, infrastructure, energy and mobile phone sectors.

The company operates in 11 African nations, mostly in East Africa.

Dewji said in 2015 that it had revenues of US$2 billion and employed 24,000 people.

His current net worth is about US$1.5 billion, according to the Forbes Billionaires list.

Additional reporting by Bloomberg