Durban father describes two-day hell searching for his kidnapped son

26 June 2019 - 16:55 By Orrin Singh
Farouk Mhlongo, 4, reunited with his mother Zanele and father Vusi after he was lured away by a stranger and went missing for two days.
Farouk Mhlongo, 4, reunited with his mother Zanele and father Vusi after he was lured away by a stranger and went missing for two days.
Image: Vusi Mhlongo

A Durban father has described a two-day search for his kidnapped four-year-old son as hell.

Farouk Mhlongo was kidnapped from Clairwood, south of Durban, at the weekend. 

News that Farouk had gone missing while his mother attended Madressa on Flower Road in Clairwood spread like wildfire on Saturday. 

Vusi Mhlongo, Farouk's father, said CCTV footage supplied by the scrapyard across the road showed his son being by lured away from the building by a stranger. 

"My wife was in Madressa and Farouk was playing outside. The gates of the Madressa opened to allow a vehicle out and Farouk sneaked out. He was curious about a motorbike parked outside the scrapyard."

The Umlazi father said the owner of the scrapyard saw this on his cameras and went out to check if Farouk was lost. 

"In the footage you see the scrapyard owner speaking to Farouk. He told us that he could not understand what Farouk was saying so he asked another man walking past to translate."

The unknown man is alleged to have conversed with the toddler before taking his hand and walking down the road. 

A case of kidnapping and missing persons was opened at the Clairwood police station as images of the alleged kidnapper's face, taken from the CCTV footage, as well as Farouk began to circulate.  

Local volunteers, community policing forums and police sprung into action and a manhunt was launched to track down the kidnapper whose face was plastered on flyers and distributed in the area. 

Vusi said the next two days were "hell".

"I cannot begin to describe what it was like, just watching that footage, seeing your son walk away with some stranger, not knowing if he was dead or alive - it was hell."

On Monday police confirmed that Farouk had been found alive and safe in Umlazi. 

This after the suspect was spotted by locals on the same road in which he was seen walking away with Farouk. 

Provincial police spokesperson Lt-Col Thulani Zwane said two suspects were arrested in connection with his alleged kidnapping. 

Vusi Ndabe, 33, and Nosipho Ngcongo, 31, appeared in the Durban Magistrate's Court on Wednesday facing charges of kidnapping. The matter was remanded to July 3 for a formal bail application. 

Vusi told TimesLIVE that his son had undergone a check-up at Addington Hospital and was fine. 

He heaped praise on everyone who united in helping find his son. 

"I would like to thank everyone involved. If SA can unite the way people - white, black, Indian and coloured - united in order to help find my boy, then the country would be a better place.

"During those two days my phone did not stop ringing, we had so much support," he said.