CHECKPOINT | ‘GRINDR UPDATE’ | 04 OCTOBER 2023
South African Police Service
Office of the Provincial Commissioner Gauteng
PARKTOWN – The Provincial Commissioner of the Police in Gauteng, Lieutenant General Elias Mawela, has commended the swift response by a multi-disciplinary team that rescued a University of Witwatersrand student who was kidnapped on 19 September 2023 in Johannesburg. The team arrested seven suspects and recovered three knives and the student’s personal items.
The student was reported missing the same day by his roommate. It is reported that he was lured to the suspects through a dating site called Grindr. The suspects demanded R30 000 from his family for his safe return.
On 20 September 2023, the team comprising of members Gauteng Crime Intelligence, Organised Crime Investigations, Hillbrow Detectives, Johannesburg Trio Detectives, Johannesburg Metro Police K9, Security companies that included Vision Tactical, JT VIP, CAP Security, Fidelity Strategic Team and Cellular Data Investigation, operationalised the information that led them to an ATM where one of the suspects was expected to withdraw the ransom money on the M2 Road. The police held an observation and then placed the suspect under arrest was soon as he arrived. He then led the team to Denver Men’s Hostel where the victim aged 18, was found bound and unconscious.
Six more suspects were arrested and the victim was rushed to hospital for medical attention.
The team is currently investigating the possibility of linking these suspects to cases in Gauteng with the same modus operandi. All seven will be charged with kidnapping and extortion and they will be appearing before court soon.
Brigadier Brenda Muridili
VISION TACTICAL COMMENCES ACTIONS TO GET GRINDR APP PROHIBITED
1st September 2023
VISION TACTICAL COMMENCES ACTIONS TO GET GRINDR APP PROHIBITED
Vision Tactical, a South African security firm, has called for the banning of the popular dating app Grindr in the country due to the alarming rise in incidents where queer men have been lured to locations, only to be physically assaulted, robbed, and held hostage. These criminals manipulate the victims into emptying their bank accounts, often by demanding deposits or coercing them into sharing their banking information. The recent surge in such crimes is increasingly worrisome and has prompted concerns among organizations and law enforcement.
The LGBTQI+ community in South Africa has long cautioned users of Grindr to take measures to protect themselves and avoid falling into these scams. Police have also issued warnings regarding the app, urging caution and vigilance when interacting with strangers.
One of their main concerns is the lack of safety measures within the app itself. Although Grindr stipulates that users should be at least 18 years old, there is no requirement for any form of identification during the registration process. This means that underage individuals can easily create profiles and interact with older men without any age verification. This inability to flag and ban users poses a significant risk as it allows vulnerable individuals to fall prey to suspects.
Grindr’s susceptibility to fake profiles adds another layer of danger to the app. Individuals can create fictitious personas, using fake pictures and inaccurate information to lure unsuspecting users. This not only facilitates deception but also makes it difficult for users to trust the authenticity of others they may encounter on the app.
The escalating incidents of violence and exploitation on Grindr have left many users feeling scared and apprehensive. Reports of physical assaults, robberies, and even murders highlight the urgent need for action. It is undeniable that Grindr carries inherent risks, and these risks disproportionately affect LGBTQ+ individuals who already face higher levels of violence and discrimination in society.
These incidents have shed light on a dark reality: Grindr cannot provide a safe space for its users. As a result, Vision Tactical’s call for a ban on Grindr in South Africa is a necessary step towards protecting vulnerable individuals and combating these criminal activities.
The South African Police Service (SAPS) finds itself facing a daunting challenge in tackling high-profile kidnappings for ransom. Not only have these incidents become more prevalent, but the emergence of kidnappings through popular dating applications such as Grindr further complicates the investigations, leaving the already overburdened investigating officers extremely stretched in their efforts.
The advent of technology and its applications in criminal activities have introduced new challenges for the SAPS. The use of Grindr, as a medium for perpetuating kidnappings highlights the ever-evolving strategies adopted by criminals. This not only adds an extra layer of complexity to investigations but also diverts the attention of investigating officers who are already overwhelmed with their existing workload.
In the face of these challenges, it is vital for the SAPS to devise strategies that prioritize the allocation of resources to combat high-profile kidnappings for ransom efficiently.
Although the process of getting Grindr banned from the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store may be an arduous one, we trust that by following this process, we can expose these risks and ensure the safety of users. While users may have alternative methods such as downloading Grindr via a Virtual Private Network (VPN), we acknowledge that this does not absolve the app’s responsibility for user safety. Users who resort to such methods are aware of the associated risks. However, it is crucial to highlight the discrepancy between these alternatives and the need for a comprehensive, regulated platform that prioritizes user security.
Recognizing the potential threats users face on Grindr is of utmost importance. By advocating for the ban of this app on major app stores, we aim to shed light on the risks involved and emphasize the need for a safer environment for online dating. Comprehensive awareness campaigns and educational initiatives must be launched to empower users with the knowledge and skills necessary to identify potential risks and protect themselves. This is especially important for vulnerable individuals who may be more susceptible to manipulation and exploitation.
According to Yaseen Theba, Director of Vision Tactical, implementing a ban on Grindr is imperative in order to safeguard vulnerable individuals against violence and exploitation.