THE GLAZER KIDNAPPING

1966

On 30 March 1966, South Africa was again in the news. This time as a result of a kidnapping. Mrs Etty Glazer, the wife of well known Johannesburg multi -millionaire, Bernard Glazer, was kidnapped with her 22-month-old son, Sammy, after dropping off her two daughters at junior school.

The ransom subsequently demanded was R140 000, which was four times as much as the U.S $50 000 paid in the famous Lindbergh kidnapping, until that time the highest ransom demand in the world. The police learnt of the kidnapping by accident, yet, within two weeks of the crime, the four men responsible were apprehended and most of the money returned.

The then Minister of justice, John Vorster, issued a special statement at the time, which read: 'The full story of the investigation reads like a work of fiction. If there is a detective force in the world that can do better, I should like to hear of it.'

At about eight o'clock on the morning of 30 March, Mrs Glazer left her Morningside home in a station wagon to take her two daughters, Michelle (7) and Ella (5) to Sandown Public School. She was wearing her dressing gown over her nightclothes. Having dropped off the two girls, she headed back home. On an open gravel road about half a mile from her home, she saw a car parked on the left-hand side of the road; the boot and the bonnet of the car were open. Two men were standing in the road alongside the car and a third man was sitting inside the car. They appeared to be having car trouble. As she approached, one of the men stepped on to the road in front of her car and flagged her down. When she stopped, he walked around to the driver's side window and without warning grabbed hold of her arm. “This is security,” he said. On the other side of the car his accomplice tried to get inside but the doors were locked.

Realizing that something was terribly wrong, Mrs Glazer began to scream for help and sounded the hooter. Moments later, the two men were inside. There was a brief struggle, during which the hooter was broken and Mrs Glazer's lip was cut, then she was subdued. Both she and the child were hysterical “What do you want of me?” she asked. “We are political refugees. We need your car,” one of the men replied. “Then take my car and leave me,” she said. “We need you too,” they answered.

Having been forced out of the driving seat, she was told to lie down on the floor of the car, but refused. One of the kidnappers then pulled out a gun. “Behave and act normally,” he warned. Before they moved off, the second kidnapper removed Mrs Glazer's spectacles. Then he held his hands over her eyes throughout the short journey that followed. When they arrived at the house where she was to be held, they turned off the road and pulled into a garage, where, once the doors had been closed, she was allowed to see. She had no idea where she was. Mrs Glazer and her son were then taken into the house, where she was ordered to contact her husband. One of the men said, “We want £70 000 for your release.”

Mrs Glazer's husband was en route to Swaziland and it was impossible to contact him, so her first phone call was to her mother, to whom she explained her predicament, and that the kidnappers wanted R140 000 for her release. She also warned her mother not to tell the police or anyone else. Next, she phoned her husband's secretary, Mr Davis. Soon after the conversation had ended, Davis set out for Swaziland.

When Mr Glazer heard the news, he immediately returned to Johannesburg where his mother-in-law was waiting for him at his home. At 6 p. m. Mr Glazer spoke to his wife. Afterwards, a man came to the phone. “Mr Glazer,” he said, “we want £70 000 for your son's and wife's release. If you want your wife and child alive you must pay £70 000 - and Mr Glazer, no tricks, no marked money and no police if you want your wife and child alive.”

Mr Glazer explained that he had to go to Pretoria to get the money. He then contacted the manager of his bank and arranged to withdraw the cash - all in R10 and R20 notes - after hours. He reached the bank at about 11 p.m., where a bank official met him. The man allowed him to withdraw the R 140 000 he needed, but not before he made a list of the numbers of certain of the notes.

Mr Glazer received another telephone call at his home that night. This time, he was given explicit instructions concerning the handing-over of the money. He was to drive to Corlett Drive and park his car at bus-stop 50. He was to wait at the telephone booth there for further instructions. Mr Glazer did exactly as he was told. He was ordered to leave the money on the back seat of the car and the doors unlocked. He was to go for a walk down the street. He did so, and when he returned to the car, the money had gone. At 2 a.m. Mr Glazer received another phone call informing him that his wife and son were to be released and would be home in half an hour.

Shortly after this, the kidnappers took Mrs Glazer and her son for a drive. Some distance from the house where she had been held, they jumped out of the station wagon and sped away in their own vehicle. Mrs Glazer then drove herself home. Fortunately, neither she nor her son had been molested in any way, and they were physically unharmed.

In the meantime, the police had found out all about the kidnapping. They had been alerted to the situation by Mr Glazer's bank manager, who was alarmed when his client had demanded to withdraw such a large amount cash 'under mysterious circumstances' late at night. (Mr Glazer had insisted that the bank be opened so that he could withdraw R140 000 for which amount he issued a cheque. He was clearly in an extremely agitated state, but would not say why he so desperately needed the money.) The head of the security police, Brigadier Hendrick van den Bergh, had moved swiftly once the matter had been brought to his attention. He arrived at the Glazer mansion just as Mr Glazer returned home after paying the ransom. Although he forced Mr Glazer to reveal what was happening, Mr Glazer refused to allow the police to act until his wife and son had been released. The following morning, Jannie Nel, at that time a sergeant in the South African Crime Bureau (but later news editor of the Rand Daily Mail) was sworn to secrecy and taken to meet Mrs Glazer at her home. His task was to draw up a detailed plan of the house in which she had been kept prisoner, in the hope that the place could be traced.

When Sergeant Nel first met Mrs Glazer, she was still in a state of shock after her ordeal, but slowly he asked his questions. Eventually, Mrs Glazer drew what she thought was a rough outline of the house, but what Nell would later describe as little more than an 'elaborate squiggle'. Three days later, however, the elaborate squiggle had been transformed into a detailed master plan which would play a significant role in the capture of the kidnappers. She began the debriefing almost a total wreck, but by the end was able to give remarkable details about the inside of the kidnap house, said Nel. The police had three more useful pieces of information to help in the search. During the kidnap, one of the kidnappers had sent a telegram to Israel at Mrs Glazer's request; it was traced to the Bramley area. The kidnappers had also bought a dummy and some food for Sammy, Mrs Glazer's son, from a Bramley pharmacist. And Mrs Glazer estimated that the house to which she had been taken was 'about two miles away [from the scene of the abduction as the crow flies'. In this way, the police were able to narrow down their search. Eventually, detailed copies of fate 'master plan' were duplicated and distributed to 500 hand picked policeman who were all from Pretoria so as to ensure total security. The men were sent out with the maps, instructed to pose as telephone personnel, and ordered to visit the 6 000 houses in the Bramley area.

The house, which had been used in the kidnapping, was discovered on the first day. It belonged to one Leonard Landou Levy (43). Leonard levy was immediately identified by Mrs Glazer as one of the men who had held her captive. When he was confronted by the police, he denied any involvement in the kidnapping. However, he did admit that on a date prior to the kidnapping, he had been approached by his brother Ephraim (39) and a friend, Stanley Ivan Jawitz (36), to lend them his house for seven days; he would be paid R10 000 for the favour. Leonard Levy claimed that he had first refused, but agreed to lend the two men his house on 29 March, the day before the kidnapping.

Leonard Levy later took police to a building society in Johannnesburg, where there was a safe-deposit box containing R6 990, which he an handed over. The police then arrested Ephraim Levy at his Bantry Bay home in Cape Town and recovered a further R58 500 from him. On the morning of April 13, the police recovered R60 000 from a safe-deposit box belonging to Stanley Jawitz.

On the previous evening, Jawitz, who was being questioned by the police had committed suicide by jumping to his death from the top of an apartment block in Berea, Johannesburg. Kenneth, the third Levy brother, was also implicated in the crime and arrested by the police.

The trial of Ephraim, Leonard and Kenneth Levy, all of whom were accused of kidnapping and child stealing, began at the Rand Supreme Court on 1 June, 1966. The presiding judge was Mr Justice Hiemstra. The three men initially pleaded not guilty, but on the second day of the trial, Ephraim Levy changed his plea to guilty. He was tried separately from his two brothers. On 10 June, all three brothers were convicted of kidnapping. Ephraim Levy was sentenced to 16 years in jail, Kenneth to 6 years and Leonard to 5 years. They were denied leave to appeal. Throughout the trial Kenneth Levy maintained that he was not involved in the kidnapping, despite the fact that, apart from other, things, he had been driving the car used in the abduction of Mrs Glazer. “I was recovering from a motor-car accident at the time,” Levy maintained. “I had sustained serious head injuries and had suffered brain haemorrhage - I did not even know my own name - how on earth could I have known that I was being drawn into a kidnapping?”

Mr. Justice Hiemstra, however, was convinced of Levy's guilt. At the summing up he declared: “You [Kenneth] were an active participant to a greater extent than your brother Leonard. You were on the scene of the kidnapping and knew what was going on. You saw fit to deny that you knew anything about it and by so doing forfeited much of the compassion one could have had for you in your present predicament.” Bernard Glazer instituted a civil action against Kenneth Levy for the return of the missing ransom money.

In June 1967, the Rand Supreme Court ordered Levy to pay Glazer R2 500. Ephraim and Leonard Levy, whose estates had been sequestrated in the interim, were exonerated from liability.

The Glazer Kidnapping, written by Kenneth Levy in collaboration with his journalist nephew, Barry Levy, was published in 1986. In it, Levy professes his innocence in the affair and says that he was dragged into the intrigue by Stanley Jawitz, whom he hero-worshipped. Jawitz's suicide ensured that facts, which would have exonerated him, never came to light.

The Lindbergh kidnapping
One of the most famous kidnapping cases at that time involved the infant son of the famous aviator, Charles Lindbergh (the first man to cross the Atlantic Ocean by aeroplane; he made the flight in his aeroplane Spirit of St Louis). The child was kidnapped on 1 March 1932, from the Lindbergh's New Jersey home. The kidnapper, who used a ladder to gain access to the child's bedroom, left a ransom note for $50 000. This figure was later raised to $70 000. Dr John Condon, a friend of the Lindbergh family, offered his services as mediator. After weeks of delays and setbacks, Cordon eventually met a man named ‘John’ in the Bronx, In exchange for $50 000 ‘John’ told him that the missing child was to be found on board a boat by the name of Nellie at Martha's Vineyard near Massachusetts. This information turned out to be false. In May 1932, the body of the child was discovered about five miles from the Lindbergh's house; the infant boy had been killed by a blow to the head and had been dead for about two months. His murderer was never traced.

The kidnapping of Eugene Paul Gety II
Possibly the most famous kidnapping of recent years is that of Eugene Paul Getty II, the seventeen-year old grandson of billionaire Paul Getty. On 10 July 1973, Getty was kidnapped in Rome. His mother, the former actress Gail (Getty) Harris, soon received a telephone ransom demand for $17-million. Paul Getty senior stated that he refused, on principle, to pay any ransom. In November 1973, on envelope was delivered to the Rome daily newspaper, Il Messaggero. It contained a lock of reddish hair and a severed human ear. An accompanying typed message read: 'This is Paul's first ear. If within 10 days the family still believes this is a joke mounted by him, then the other ear will arrive. In other words, he will arrive in little bits.' Eventually, Paul Getty senior capitulated and a ransom thought to be in the region of $2-million was paid. Paul Getty was released, minus his ear, in mid-December 1973.

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