Singapore family returns home safely after kidnapping in Johor

Ms Rita Zahara Binte Mohamed Nazeer (right), 37, talks to the media while her daughter, 11, looks on.

A SINGAPOREAN family is now safely back home after a kidnapping incident this morning in Johor.

37-year-old Rita Zahara, her sister, two children and maid were returning home slightly after midnight from a family reunion at her eldest sister's house near Larkin, Johor, when Ms Rita Zahara stopped about 40m away from some fruit stalls to buy fruits.

Her sister, children and maid stayed in the car with locked doors.

Two men armed with a gun and a knife then appeared suddenly and demanded that the car occupants open the door.

They drove off with the car.

Ms Rita Zahara told The Straits Times that she parked her car further away from the stalls as she did not want to obstruct traffic.

After turning around and realising that the car was missing, Ms Rita Zahara called her sister.

One of the men picked up the phone and demanded all the money she had. They also threatened to kill her family if she went to the police.

For the next four hours, Ms Rita Zahara kept calm and negotiated with the kidnappers.

She also worked with the Malaysian and Singaporean authorities to save her family.

Later, the kidnappers decided to give up on waiting for the ransom and released the family by the roadside.

They drove off with the car, a Nissan Sunny, and all the valuables in it. The Straits Times said the car and valuables were worth a total of $100,000.

Town people then helped the family contact the police. The family was reunited at about 4.45am.

paullim@sph.com.sg

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