Cape Town – The mother of a local man who disappeared while teaching in Vietnam has appealed to the public to refrain from making unsubstantiated claims, after reports emerged that her son, along with another missing SA man, may have been kidnapped for organ trafficking.
The families of Mushfiq Daniels, 28, of Surrey Estate, and John Bothma, 22, from Gauteng, are praying for the safe return of their loved ones who disappeared while teaching English in Vietnam.
Daniels was last seen on July 5 in Phu Nhuan, Ho Chi Minh City, and his family have since travelled to the country in a desperate attempt to find him.
Daniels had been teaching in Vietnam since last March. It has been about three months since Bothma made contact with his family.
The Department of International Relations and Co-operation said there is no update on the case, according to the Gift of the Givers, organ traffickers may be behind the disappearance.
Faheema said on Monday reports and rumours about her son's safety and condition, including alleged involvement in organ trafficking, cults and drugs, had caused her to fall ill and suffer a mild heart attack over the weekend.
“I have hope and I know he is still alive and he is out there. He is a good child. To go through all of this is upsetting, it's like a circus, but a child's life is at stake.”
Family members continued to search for her son on foot, she said.
“So far, they have come up with nothing. It is not easy with the language barrier, people are not helpful at all and it is making it extra hard.
"Places are not close together like in Cape Town. You have to use a motorbike for transport and it is taking a toll on my health.”
Santjie Dixon, who has been caring for Bothma since he was a minor, said there were no developments in the case, and that she preferred to not speak to media.
Gift of the Givers founder Imtiaz Sooliman said he was contacted by members of both families. “We looked at this closely, people don't just disappear.”
There were various scenarios considered, he said, adding that there was no indication that the men were involved with drugs, with money being sent home from their work in Vietnam.
If the men had wanted to be alone, there was no reason they wouldn't indicate to friends and family they were safe, Sooliman said.
And in the case of an accident, friends, colleagues would have notified authorities and family back home.
“If we look at it a bit more cynically and consider being used as drug mules, in that case, drug mules do not cut the relationship with family because it elicits suspicion.
"If this was in Syria, Yemen, Mali, etc, we would consider a terror group, but there is no known terror group. There is no ransom.”
With more than five million people in need of organs in Vietnam and poor donor numbers, those investigating had to consider organ trafficking, Sooliman said.
“We still have hope that they may be found alive. They may be alive in captivity, so we need our government to act fast.”
International Relations spokesperson Clayson Monyela said: “We don't have new information on this case. We continue to render the necessary consular services.”