John Bothma and Mushfiq Daniels, both in their twenties and from South Africa, have been missing in Vietnam for months
Two English teachers who mysteriously disappeared abroad within weeks of each other are feared to have been kidnapped so their bodies can be harvested for organs. Jamie Payatt reports on The Mirror.
John Bothma, 22, and Mushfiq Daniels, 28, were both due to fly home to South Africa just before their visas expired but vanished separately while visiting Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
According to The Mirror, there has been no trace of Bothma since May 18 or Daniels since July 3 and now South Africa’s leading humanitarian relief chief fears that organ harvesters have snatched them.
Earlier this year Vietnamese authorities bust a criminal syndicate selling kidneys on the black market in a country where there is a huge shortage of donors for major organs.
The trade is rife in the communist country with huge profits to be made in the illegal use of body parts.
Now Gift of the Givers founder Dr Imtiaz Sooliman, 67, – who runs Africa’s largest disaster relief and humanitarian relief group – believes they have fallen prey to organ snatchers.
Dr Sooliman has been approached by both families to use his extensive worldwide contacts and experience to try and make a breakthrough as to what has happened to the pair.
Neither were known to each other but both were fit and healthy foreigners and were looking forward to returning home but disappeared unexpectedly without any trace.
The South African nationals had been teaching English to young Vietnamese children in remote towns.
All their possessions and clothes were still at their lodgings in the remote towns where they taught English to Vietnamese children but the authorities cannot find either of them.
Dr Sooliman – whose charity work has been recognised by Nelson Mandela and who holds the highest civilian award in South Africa – believes they could both still be alive.
He said: ” have discounted every other possibility of what could have happened to them and the only one that remains likely is that they have been targeted for their body organs.
“These people are very professional and have operating theatres with professional surgeons ready to carry out transplants but you can’t just do it without doing all the preparation.
“They would have to take blood and tissue samples from the donor and match them up with the recipients and that takes time trying to match them up to ensure it is successful.
“The organs in demand are the kidneys, liver, heart, lungs and eyes and it is not beyond the realms of possibility that these men could be kept alive until all the matches are made.
“There is of course no guarantee that this is what has happened but it seems the most likely when you look at the characters of these two men and try and work out what’s happened.
“If by chance both were killed or injured while staying in Ho Chi Minh City there would be records in the hospitals or morgues but all of those have been checked without success.
“Being kidnapped for human trafficking can be discounted as that is almost always only women who are taken to be forced into prostitution or children and rarely grown men.
“If they had been recruited as drug mules there would be no need for them to break contact with their families and if they had been kidnapped for ransom where are the demands?
“Terrorism can be ruled out as there are no terror groups in Vietnam any more. Both were in regular contact with their families and were looking forward to going home to see them.
“So what else could have happened to two fit and healthy men visiting the city? The only other situation for people to disappear is being taken hostage and that has not happened.
“My gut feeling is that they have been taken for organ trafficking as there is a huge illegal black market for it in Vietnam as there are very few organ donors there for religious reasons.
“Most Vietnamese people believe that the body organs are needed for the afterlife so do not donate organs.
“Statistics show that from the 95 million population in Vietnam that 5 million need organ donors and there is a huge demand for the kidneys, lungs, hearts, livers and eyes.
“If a foreigner disappears there is a huge value in his organs and nobody there asks any questions?
“A willing donor will get $6000 for a kidney and a recipient will pay $40,000 for it so you can see the amount of money that is available to be made in a poor country for organs.
“I hope I am very wrong that this is the fate has befallen these two teachers and that they have b been taken unwillingly.
“But if they have been kidnapped for their organs to be donated against their will they could still be alive while tests are done to match all their organs so it may not be too late”.
Some 300,000 British tourists visit the Communist country in Southeast Asia each year.
Dr Sooliman said the mother of Mr Daniels is currently in Vietnam trying to trace her son but he said she was distraught at the lack of help she was being given by the authorities.
The mother of Mr Bothma is trying to raise money to join her in the search in Vietnam.
He added “There is nothing being done there, there is no co-operation. I am trying to get them to ramp up their efforts and if they don’t then I will get Interpol involved in this”.
Mr Bothma had been in Vietnam since November and was due to fly home on June 1 and Mr Daniels who had worked there since March was due to fly back home on July 5..
Mr Bothma is from Roodeport in Gauteng province and Mr Daniels is from Cape Town.
John’s mother Coleen Bothma said: “I feel so helpless. I miss him so much. It has been three months since I spoke to him and I keep calling him and sending him messages.
“I hope all this about organs is not true and I hope to find him alive” said the nurse.
Mr Daniels’ mother Faheema Abrahams, who remarried several years ago, has travelled to Vietnam and said news of the organ donor theory has made her extremely unwell.
This article was first published on The Mirror