The family of a South African teacher who has been reported missing in Vietnam plans to spread its search deeper into the the rural areas outside Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) this week.
This as they intensify the search for their missing son, Mushfiq Daniels, 28, who is from Surrey Estate in Cape Town.
Daniels was last seen on July 5 in Ho Chi Min City, Netwerk24 reported on Friday.
Speaking to News24 on Sunday, Daniels’ cousin, Imaad Isaacs, said they have exhausted about 18 hospitals, been to almost 12 police stations and various mosques in the city, but have had no luck in finding any leads about his whereabouts.
Daniels has been working as an English teacher in the country since March 2018.
His mother Faheema Abrahams, two brothers Raeeq and Nur as well as Isaacs arrived in the country on July 10 in search for him.
Despite not receiving any leads as yet, Isaacs said about 10 other friends of Daniels, were also on the ground, pleading with locals to keep an eye out in assistance.
He said the family will also be interviewed by a television channel to create awareness of the case.
“We are at a point where we just have to follow up every single lead and keep the hope as strong as possible and that cannot be easy,” Isaacs told News24.
He said according to information at their disposal, police had not yet launched a search to trace his cousin and he believed that would be initiated on Monday.
“I don’t know if the police are going to be [of] any use because from the previous reports of engagements in the Bothma case, it has been two months now and police have been no use in finding and tracking him down,” he said.
Isaacs was referring to the case of 22-year-old John Bothma from Gauteng who was also reported missing earlier this year and was last heard from on May 18.
Bothma had been visiting a friend in Ho Chi Minh City. His phone had been off since then and friends and family have been trying to piece together what could have happened, News24 previously reported.
Isaacs said that they would also soon be meeting with Bothma’s search team as there had been questions of whether the two cases were related.
He said while the family was not in a position to confirm any speculations regarding what triggered Daniels’ dissapearance, it had gathered information that he may had been suffering some sort of mental breakdown.
This is because of reports from people who had seen him before he went missing. A person who had seen him reported to the family that on their last encounter with Daniels, he was not himself and had just smiled and walked away.
Isaacs said such behaviour was unlike Daniels because he is friendly and talkative. He wouldn’t just greet and move on.
“Reports we have filed and been given, have said that he may have been in a disorientated and distressed state,” he said.
While local media in Indonesia, HarianNusa.Com, was reporting that Daniels was deported on June 12 and was flown out of the country on Air Asia QZ 463, Isaacs said his cousin was never deported.
He said if he was, the South African Embassy would have been involved in the process and that was not the case.
“They never deported [him] from Indonesia. They never deported him to South Africa either. There is a report of an incident, from what we have gathered from the fact that he was disoriented and distressed,” he said.
He said while he would not be delving in deep to the facts surrounding the incident, it was however, isolated to his sudden disappearance. By their understanding, he returned to Vietnam after leaving Indonesia.
“We wouldn’t fly out about six people to search for him to the wrong country if he was deported. It is not a cheap exercise to be here,” said Isaacs.
Department of International Relations and Cooperation (Dirco) spokesperson Nelson Kgwete confirmed that the department is aware of Daniels’ disappearance, News24 reported.
Kgwete said they were in contact with the family.
Isaacs lauded the SA government embassy that had been responsive since Friday evening, although it had taken initiative from the family to follow up with it.
“They have reached out even after hours which is a positive sign. But [as to] the extent of engagement, I am not sure how that will look.
“I honestly don’t know what will happen. His mom is hopeful that he will be found in a good state,” he said.
The family has asked that the case be treated with sensitivity as it is hopeful that their son would return home safe and sound. There is also a Facebook page handled by close friends of Daniels giving updates on the search.
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