John Bothma has been missing since May last year. Picture: Facebook
John Bothma has been missing since May last year. Picture: Facebook

Another empty Christmas for the mothers of two sons who are missing in Vietnam

By Shaun Smillie Time of article published Dec 19, 2020

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As South Africans head into the holidays and families are reunited, two mothers will spend this time again without their sons.

Coleen Bothma and Faheema Abrahams live in different cities and come from different backgrounds but what they have in common is that both their sons are missing in Vietnam.

John Bothma was last seen in Ho Chi Minh City on May 18, last year while Mushfiq Daniels was last heard from on July 3 last year.

"I have tried all sources, everything I could think of who could help me, but nothing.

“And I will do anything just to get news about John," says Bothma, who lives in Kempton Park.

John Bothma has been missing since May last year. Picture: Facebook

There haven’t been any sightings of John and no leads to follow.

Bothma, last year travelled to Vietnam and spent nine days searching for her son.

To communicate with locals she used an app on her phone that translated Afrikaans into Vietnamese.

At the South African embassy, she collected her son’s passport and was given his belongings that he left at a backpackers’ lodge where he stayed.

But there was no sign of John.

Early this year there was news of remains that were found in Vietnam and Bothma was asked to give a DNA sample.

So far nothing came from this.

“Someone can't just disappear, and he was so happy teaching there,” says Bothma.

“My biggest, biggest wish is that I can go back so I can get answers to what happened.”

John arrived in Hanoi, Vietnam in November 2018 to teach part time.

His plan was to eventually get a full-time teaching position.

From his phone calls home, Bothma said he seemed happy and planned to return home on June 2, last year.

John disappeared when he left Hanoi to travel to Ho Chi Minh city.

Just last week, Bothma spoke to Abrahams.

John and Daniels didn’t know each other but their mothers have developed a special bond, where they regularly talk to each other.

On the day Daniels disappeared a friend took a photograph of him.

His mother believes that he might have suffered some sort of mental breakdown.

On the day he was photographed he appeared distressed.

He was wearing red shorts and had a backpack slung over his shoulder.

Mushfiq Daniels Picture: Facebook

Like John, Daniels went across to Vietnam to teach.

But unlike John, now and again there are recorded sightings of Daniels.

“There have been quite a few supposed sightings, but once we followed it up they are not positive,” says Abrahams.

Often the sightings turn out to be Bangladeshi or Pakistanis.

Abrahams spent five months in Vietnam searching for her son, and like Bothma found no leads.

“The problem is that you just don’t get closure, I have to be strong,” says Abrahams, who lives in Cape Town.

As with Bothma, Abrahams wants to return to Vietnam to continue her search.

On the Internet there has been speculation of what has happened to the two men.

One suggestion is that they were victims of an organ trafficking ring.

But there is no evidence for this.

Meanwhile both mothers are forced to deal with their lost sons, during a difficult time of year.

“His first Christmas away, two years ago he told me everything that was happening, all the excitement and his plans for New Year.

“And last year he was not here, and this year it is almost Christmas again and he is still not found,” says Bothma.

The Saturday Star

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