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Africa's youngest billionaire is free 9 days after gunmen seized him

Tanzanian billionaire Mohammed Dewji, who was seized by gunmen outside a luxury hotel nine days ago, is home...

Posted: Oct 21, 2018 5:07 AM
Updated: Oct 21, 2018 5:07 AM

Tanzanian billionaire Mohammed Dewji, who was seized by gunmen outside a luxury hotel nine days ago, is home safe after his kidnappers freed him, police said.

Unknown gunmen snatched Dewji, 43, on October 11 as he left his early morning workout in the commercial capital of Dar es Salaam, police said.

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He was found about 3:15 a.m. local time Saturday in the same city, regional police commissioner Lazaro Mambosasa told reporters. Dewji, who attended the news conference in a white T-shirt and pants, thanked police officers and shook their hands.

Police officials did not provide additional details on his release. It's unclear whether a ransom was paid.

Dewji's disappearance made international headlines, with his family offering a reward of one billion Tanzanian shillings (US $440,000) for information leading to his rescue. The business tycoon has previously served as member of the parliament, and is described as Africa's youngest billionaire.

Shortly after he was found, a tweet attributed to him on his organization's account, the Mo Dewji Foundation, announced that he has been found.

"I thank Allah that I have returned home safely. I thank all my fellow Tanzanians, and everyone around the world for their prayers. I thank the authorities of Tanzania, including the police force, for working for my safe return," it said.

Tanzanian environment minister, January Makamba, tweeted that he visited him at his home Saturday morning. He appears healthy except for rope marks where kidnappers tied his hands and legs, he said.

"I have just spoken to him and his father 20 minutes ago. In his voice, he's the usual Mo. So he is okay," Makamba tweeted.

CNN calls to Makamba and the regional police commissioner for additional details went unanswered.

Immediately after the kidnapping, Mambosasa said the abductors accessed the gym through gates left open deliberately. They drove into the hotel and opened fire before shoving Dewji into a car and speeding off.

The motive for the kidnapping is still unknown, but police said at the time that they believe it's a "ransom" kidnapping.

Dewji is Africa's youngest billionaire and runs the METL group, a family business that operates in six African countries and manufactures textiles, and food and beverages.

Popularly known as Mo, Dewji launched the Mo Cola beverage to compete with Coca Cola in 2014. Forbes Magazine said he has a net worth of $1.5 billion, and described him as Africa's youngest billionaire.

He served two terms in the Tanzania parliament before he resigned in 2015 to dedicate more time to the family business.

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