Back to school for Nayati

2012-05-04 00:00

AFTER being held captive by kidnappers for almost a week, Nayati Moodliar will go straight back to school after his release following the payment of an undisclosed amount to the kidnappers.

Although his father, Durban-born Sham Moodliar, had denied media reports that stated they had made contact with the kidnappers, Kuala Lumpur police chief Datuk Mohmad Salleh is quoted in a Malaysian newspaper saying that the men who took Nayati had called the family and made a ransom demand on the same day he was taken.

Nayati was found at 7.55 am (1 am South African time) on the edge of a highway just north of the Malaysian capital yesterday.

He called his parents using a cellphone left with him by the kidnappers after they had snatched him on his way to school last week.

“Physically, he’s okay as there are no injuries on him,” said Mohmad Salleh.

The 12-year-old Nayati has been reunited with his father and mother, Janice Smith, and his six-year-old sister Saffiya.

“We are delighted to tell you that Nayati is back home with us, and although it has obviously been a very traumatic time for him, he appears at this stage to be in good shape,” the family said in a statement sent to the media after his release.

“We cannot begin to say how proud we are of him and the way that he has coped with the events of the past week.”

Speaking to The Witness earlier this week, Moodliar said they had not made contact, and had asked the police and media to “step back” as they feared their involvement might “pose a threat” to their son’s life.

Yesterday, he tweeted his admiration for his son: “So strong. He’s asked to go back to school immediately.”

The family had said they had received “unexpected” support from places as far as Zambia and the U.S. during the ordeal.

“As the case is the subject of an ongoing police investigation, we are unable to reveal any further details at this stage,” reads one of the tweets.

They also praised the Malaysian police, saying: “Their number one priority from the start has been the safe return of Nayati, and they have been most careful not to do anything that might have jeopardised his safety.

Attempts to get in touch with the family were unsuccessful as both parent’s cellphones went straight to voicemail.

“They are out celebrating right now so they won’t be answering any calls,” a friend told The Witness.

In his daily update posted on the Mont’ Kiara International School websiee, principal Walter Morris described Nayati as a “strong and resilient young man”.

“Those character traits are a credit to Nayati and to the life lessons taught by his mother and father. He has displayed strength of character and resilience far beyond his age …”

His aunt in Cape Town, Anushia Moodliar, expressed delight following the news of his safe return.

“You can’t believe how relieved we are that he has been found,” she told The Witness yesterday.

She said the family in South Africa had received the news at 3.30 am yesterday, but that they hadn’t spoken yet to Nayati’s parents and did not have any further information regarding his release.

His other aunt in Cape Town, Caroline Swanepoel and her family, attended a service of thanksgiving at Bishops school, led by Anglican Archbishop Thabo Makgoba.

The South African government has also expressed its relief, calling for action against the kidnappers, who have yet to be found.

“The government extends its appreciation to the government of Malaysia,” said International Relations spokesperson Clayson Monyela.

• lunga.biyela@witness.co.za

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