Gift of the Givers joins search for two SA missing teachers in Vietnam
Johannesburg - John Bothma and Mushfiq Daniels lived in the same city, came from the same country, worked as teachers, and then vanished under mysterious circumstances.
They didn’t appear to know each other, but the similarities between the two men is what humanitarian organisation Gift of the Givers wants to investigate in the hope of bringing both of them home.
On Friday, the founder, Imtiaz Sooliman told the Saturday Star his organisation would help in trying to find the two men after being approached by their families.
“My gut feel is they have been taken for organ trafficking,” said Sooliman. “The only other circumstance where people would disappear is in hostage situations. This is not a hostage situation.”
Bothma from Kempton Park was last seen in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, on May 18, while Daniels’ family last heard from their son on July 3.
“John was supposed to come home on June 1 on a short holiday. Mushfiq wanted to come home on July 5 also for a holiday and asked his family to deposit money for airfare into his account. The money was deposited but apparently wasn’t retrieved,” said Sooliman.
Gift of the Givers was approached to assist as it has helped in locating missing South Africans abroad in the past. It negotiated the release of former al-Qaeda captive Yolande Korkie in 2014, eight months after she and her husband Pierre were kidnapped in Yemen. Pierre was killed on December 6, 2014 during a rescue attempt by US special forces. Gift of the Givers had shortly before the raid secured a deal with al-Qaeda for his release.
The humanitarian organisation is working on securing the release of South African photographer Shiraaz Mohamed from Syria.
Sooliman said Gift of the Givers had met Daniels’ family on Thursday and planned to soon meet Bothma’s family.
“It was very difficult to get a coherent picture of what exactly happened. Many of the things they told us they say are not confirmed,” said Sooliman of his meeting with Mushfiq’s family in Cape Town.
Daniels’ mother Fahiema Abrahams is in Vietnam. According to what his family have found, is that he was seen in Phu Nhuan, in Ho Chi Minh City on July 5. He was wearing red shorts and carrying a backpack. Sooliman believes there are too many similarities between the two disappearances.
“Both are South African, both are male, both are teachers, both worked in the same city and disappeared in the same city,” said Sooliman.
“It seems there was a female involved in some way in both cases, whether this was a negative contributing factor or purely incidental is something we want to look at.
“John told his aunt that his relationship with some lady called Jody Kurash was a big mistake. Mushfiq’s family said they had serious misgivings of a lady called Lauren, whom they met with in Vietnam, who appeared to have some kind of ‘relationship’ or ‘association’ with Mushfiq,” he added.
There has been speculation on social media by Daniels’ family that he may have experienced some sort of mental breakdown. Daniels left South Africa in March last year to teach English at a school in Ho Chi Minh City. On the day of his disappearance, a friend apparently saw him and said he appeared distressed.
Bothma had arrived in Vietnam last November.
The Department of International Relations and Co-operation is assisting in trying to find the men.
The Saturday Star