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South African pastor loses job, money after kidnapping hoax
Thursday night, Evangelical Reformed Church pastor Paul Beyl told his wife that he was going to pull the car into the garage of his Pretoria, South Africa, home.

"She heard the garage door open, then a blood-curdling yell, and the sound of a car speeding away," the South African paper Beeld reported. Police were called in, and a search began with helicopters, highway patrols, several police patrols, dogs, and border guards. Within two days, South Africa's Christians had been mobilized into prayer, with vigils and prayer alerts. Calls for prayer went out nationwide, with support pouring in from as far away as New Zealand. Beyl's kidnapping was big news in the South African media all last weekend, but appears to have been even bigger news in the informal prayer networks and international prayer trees that the Internet has made possible.

Meanwhile, police had spent up about $72,000 in the search, which was expanded to all of Pretoria, Johannesburg, and Midrand.

But to no effect. It wasn't until Saturday morning, when Beyl walked into the Johannesburg Central police station, that anyone knew he was okay.

Beyl told police of his ordeal, how he was blindfolded and bound, thrown into his car, then later dumped in a field.

Or not. As it turns out, Beyl had spent the night at the Gold Reef City resort, a large casino.

"This type of behavior cannot be allowed and this man must face the full wrath of the law," police commissioner Amon Mashigo told reporters, saying the department will likely try to recoup the costs of the manhunt from Beyl. "We cannot play games when it comes to fighting crime, especially ones as vile as hijacking. These types of action are extremely traumatic, not ...

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February 2004

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