The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) and a company linked to it have denied any knowledge regarding the whereabouts of Ethiopian Abdella Hussein Abadiga who was allegedly kidnapped from the Mall of Africa in Johannesburg in December.
This was confirmed in the Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg by adv Billy Moeletsi, representing the SANDF, Peters Communications Trust (a company linked to the SANDF) and SANDF Gen Herbert Dilebogo Mashego.
Judge Lotter Wepener earlier instructed three of the seven respondents in the urgent court hearing to disclose Abadiga’s location.
The other four respondents are police minister Bheki Cele, international relations and co-operation minister Naledi Pandor, President Cyril Ramaphosa and the Mall of Africa.
The application was launched by Abadiga’s brother Abdurahim Abadiga after his disappearance.
Abadiga allegedly disappeared from the mall on December 29, apparently after he had a meeting there.
“Your lordship, the respondents have no knowledge about Abadiga’s kidnapping nor did they take part in the kidnapping,” Moeletsi told the court.
The matter was removed from the court roll to allow Moeletsi and Anush Nadason, representing Cele, to file responding papers.
Abadiga, an alleged Islamic State recruiter and funder, is alleged to have been snatched from the mall in December by SANDF special forces.
He was placed under US Treasury sanctions in March last year, with Tanzanian Peter Charles Mbaga and South Africans Farhad Hoomer and Siraaj Miller.
According to the US government, the men are alleged to have helped terrorist group Islamic State in Iraq and Syria gather support and financing for its Africa campaigns. Abdurahim reported him missing to Midrand police in January.
Police are investigating a case of kidnapping after CCTV footage was obtained from Mall of Africa cameras allegedly showing men driving vehicles with number plates registered to Peters Communications Trust leaving the parking lot at about the time of Abadiga’s disappearance.
The footage, stills of which are contained in the application and which TimesLIVE Investigations has seen, allegedly show Abadiga’s car, a Toyota Lexus, being escorted out of the parking lot by one of the vehicles belonging to Peters Communications Trust at 4.55pm on December 29.
His application claims Abadiga was last seen on CCTV footage at 12.11pm while he was paying for his parking ticket.
He claimed this indicated Abadiga and his bodyguard intended to leave the mall in his vehicle shortly after that because the ticket was only valid for a short time.
“Yet my brother and Mr Abotese did not leave the mall in the Lexus and it is only seen leaving the parking area about four hours later, together with the grey Audi [with a number plate showing it belonged to Peters Communications Trust]”.
Abdurahim alleged that after Abadiga paid for his parking ticket and went to the parking lot, he was abducted and driven away in a Mercedes-Benz and a BMW belonging to Peters Communications Trust.
According to the application, a Midrand police investigator confirmed the vehicle registrations belonged to Peters Communications Trust after he reviewed the footage of the alleged abduction.
Through the application, Abdurahim seeks to compel the minister of defence and military veterans Thandi Modise, Ramaphosa, Cele, Pandor, the owners of Mall of Africa, Attacq, Peters Communications Trust and Herbert Mashego, a Peters Communications Trust director, to account for his brother’s whereabouts.