Polish businesswoman kidnapped outside Sandton hotel
Her ordeal came as four men appeared in court in another kidnapping matter
A Polish businesswoman – who was kidnapped outside her Sandton hotel and held for €2-million ransom – has been freed after a top-secret international police operation.
The freeing of Barbara Wadolowska – who was found unharmed near OR Tambo International airport on Friday night – came as four Pakistani nationals appeared in the Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court on Monday in relation to the kidnapping of another wealthy international businessman.
The men, who are allegedly senior members of a Pakistani mafia, were arrested on April 7 in a sting operation in connection with the kidnapping of the Pakistani businessman in Johannesburg last month.
The businessman, Ijaz-ur Rahman Ilyas Mohamed, was kidnapped shortly after he arrived in South Africa from Pakistan.
He was allegedly being held for ransom of R120,000 at a house in Waverley in northern Johannesburg.
His alleged kidnappers, Raja Nawzih Ali, Asif Quddos Islamdin, Zahid Rana Iqbal and Arshad Ali, who are charged with kidnapping and extortion, appeared in a courtroom packed with supporters.
They were released on bail of R1,000 each, ordered to surrender their passports and instructed to appear in court next month.
Their appearance on Monday took both police investigators and their defence attorneys by surprise, with the men’s bail application initially only scheduled for next week.Raja Ali’s attorney Peet du Plessis said he had no idea why his client had appeared in court on Monday.
“All of us were under the impression that the appearance for bail was for next week as scheduled.
“I was called on Friday by the prosecutor and told it was today. The prosecutor said that he had been instructed by his superiors to have the matter today. Our clients have been granted bail which we are pleased about.”
On allegations that his client and the others were linked to a mafia group, Du Plessis said he had no comment.
“I cannot comment on something I have no information or knowledge about.”
Hawks spokesperson Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi, speaking about Wadolowska’s kidnapping and release, said she had been kidnapped shortly after she arrived in South Africa.
“The kidnappers contacted the victim’s son in Poland to say that they had his mother. He immediately contacted police in that country.
“Coincidently the Hawks head was in a meeting with her Polish counterparts. A joint operation was immediately launched with a team of detectives here activated.”
Asked how Wadolowska's release had been secured, Mulaudzi said her kidnappers had soon realised that the police were tracking them and had dropped her off near the airport.
“She was fortunately unharmed.”
Times Select has however learnt through several police sources that a large portion of the ransom was paid to secure Wadolowska’s release.
Wadolowska’s son, who gave his name as Sebastian, speaking from Poland, said his mother was fine and relieved to be back home.Police spokesperson Captain Richard Munyai, commenting on the kidnapping of Mohammad, said his kidnappers had demanded R40,000 in rands and 800,000 Pakistani rupees for his release.
“His kidnappers were arrested, along with their lawyer, Eric Bryer, by an elite team of police officers who stormed the building where he was being held.”
A police officer with knowledge of the case said among the accused’s supporters were the “who’s who of the Pakistani mafia”.
“The way this matter was suddenly brought forward to today and those in the courtroom – it’s clear a raw nerve was hit when they were arrested.
“These kind of people don’t come to court unless there is a really big fish in the dock.”