The disappearance of two South African men in Vietnam is under investigation by Gift of the Givers, which fears they may have fallen prey to an organ harvesting syndicate.
John Bothma and Mushfiq Daniels didn’t know each other, but both South Africans had been teaching English in Ho Chi Minh City.
Gift of the Givers founder Imtiaz Sooliman said they shared mysterious acquaintances — two American woman he described as having had contact with both men and who paid for their flights around South East Asia and treated them to lavish gifts.
“Both families approached me last week, which helped me, because I can compare the circumstances.”
Bothma, 22, disappeared in May, shortly before he was due to return home. Daniels, 28, vanished in July.
Sooliman said all evidence now pointed towards the men having become caught up in an organ harvesting ring, based on the prominence of the black market trade in Vietnam and the details surrounding their disappearance resembling those of past crimes.
“In February this year the authorities bust a major organ harvesting ring,” he said. “I strongly believe they are involved in this. It is a lucrative business in that part of the world.”
Sooliman said: “Two different American ladies look like the answer to what’s going on. They bought flights for the men and were apparently very close to these boys.”
One of the American woman, who had developed a relationship with Bothma, was said to have demonstrated a lack of emotion that made Sooliman suspicious.
“You would expect them to have some sadness around the situation. There was no such feeling from these women.
“They have lied about their whereabouts and the circumstances around their relationships with these boys,” he said. “Why would they lie unless they were involved?”
“It’s a clear case that if there is no body found, then it is either a hostage situation or they have been taken for the harvesting of organs. It’s a highly sophisticated process, where they need to have doctors and a donor present.”
Social media users speculated that Bothma was depressed before his disappearance, and Sooliman said he had said as much to his aunt, who had raised him.
“The night that he disappeared, he spoke to his auntie and she said that he sounded very down. She said that he told her that he was ‘going down’ and that his relationship with (one of the American women) was a mistake.”
According to Sooliman, the woman told the same aunt that Bothma was considering selling a kidney, which he said was indicative of her having “slipped up”.
Daniels, 28, was last seen on July 5 in Ho Chi Minh City, according to a Find Mushfiq page on Facebook.
“It is believed that he suffered a breakdown causing distress and disorientation,” the group posted in July.
Daniels’ mother has travelled to Vietnam to assist in the search for her son.
Sooliman said the families of both men were distraught after receiving inadequate support from authorities in Vietnam.
“There is nothing being done there, there is no co-operation [from authorities in Vietnam],” said Sooliman.
He pledged to involve Interpol as they ramped up their efforts to find the men.