Durban - Stating that hijackings had reached “epidemic proportions”, a Durban magistrate denied bail to one of the men accused of hijacking and kidnapping a woman outside her Morningside work premises.

The incident, in December last year, caused a stir on social media as a video of Marta Rubilar being bundled into a car went viral. Rubilar was found unharmed several hours later.

Yesterday in the Durban Magistrate’s Court, Asibonge Mdlalose applied for bail in connection with the incident. He is facing charges of robbery with aggravating circumstances and kidnapping.

Warrant Officer Brett Cotton testified that Rubilar had arrived at work at 7.40am when a silver Polo stopped in front of her.

“Four men jumped out, two produced firearms and took her to the rear of her vehicle and drove off with her,” said Cotton.

He said not long after this Rubilar was left on the roadside in Newlands.

“She was not injured in any way and the car was recovered the same day, not far from where she was left.”

Cotton said the arresting officer recognised Mdlalose from CCTV footage of the hijacking and went to Mdlalose’s home, where he was arrested.

The accused was also seen on CCTV footage withdrawing money with Rubilar’s card at an ATM in Newlands West on the same day of the incident, testified Cotton.

Defence attorney Nhlanhla Mnculwane said he had not seen the footage of Mdlalose at the hijacking scene.

He also said that his client was a first offender, had fully co-operated with police and gave them an explanation as to why he was in possession of Rubilar’s bank card.

“He gave the name of the person who gave him the card and the applicant pointed out the house where the person resides,” said Mnculwane.

However, Cotton said police were unable to find the man who gave Mdlalose the bank card after searching several houses.

Mnculwane further submitted to the court that his client was not a flight risk because he lived with his parents, siblings and children.

He also argued that the State had a weak case against Mdlalose.

“The State has only one thing to link my client to the case - the CCTV footage from the bank - and he has explained this,” Mnculwane said.

It was also revealed during Cotton’s testimony that Mdlalose was not pointed out by Rubilar in a line-up two weeks after the incident.

“She was nervous and didn’t point anyone out,” Cotton said.

Handing down her ruling, Magistrate Vanitha Armu said the interests of justice far outweighed the interests of the accused.

“The complainant in this case was kidnapped by four males, two with firearms, and one can only imagine the terrifying ordeal experienced by the complainant. She was extremely fortunate not to have been harmed,” said Armu. “If the applicant is released on bail, it will undermine and jeopardise the objectives and proper functioning of the criminal justice system, including the bail system,” she said.

Mdlalose was remanded into custody and will appear in court again on February 26.

The Mercury