- The father of the man charged with attempting to kidnap a girl at a restaurant says his son has had a drug problem for many years.
- Ebrahim Slamang says his son Naseem has been in and out of rehab, which has come at a great cost to his family.
- Slamang does not believe his son was part of a human trafficking syndicate, as he had had no contact with anyone.
The father of the man accused of attempting to kidnap a 4-year-old girl from a Roodepoort restaurant says his son has been battling with drug addiction for many years.
In an interview with Azania Mosaka on Talk Radio 702 on Tuesday, Ebrahim Slamang apologised for his son's actions, saying: "I feel for that girl and her family.
"What he's done was completely wrong. He must pay for it."
His son, Naseem Slamang, 27, appeared in the Roodepoort Magistrate's Court on Monday after the dramatic alleged kidnapping attempt. The incident was captured on video and caused a stir on social media.
In the video, two women and a child can be seen sitting at a table on the veranda of Bella Napoli Italian Kitchen in Florida in Roodepoort, Gauteng. A man then jumps over the railing and lunges toward the child. One of the women tries to grab the child from the man's grasp as Dishal Sooku, the restaurant owner, tackles him to the ground.
Slamang has been charged with assault with the intent to cause grievous bodily harm, attempted kidnapping and common assault.
According to Ebrahim Slamang, his son had been acting strangely on the day of the incident.
"He acted out at home already," Slamang told Mosaka.
After being in drug rehabilitation for about a year and going missing for a few days, Naseem was at home on the day of the incident. He lives with his father, paternal aunt and her husband.
Not part of a syndicate
"I went after him but I was stopped and told, rather let him go. He was almost knocked down by a car and then he ran to this place (the restaurant). On his way to this place there was another incident that happened. There is a case for that."
Ebrahim told Mosaka his son was not part of a human trafficking syndicate, as was speculated on social media.
"I know [he's not part of] a syndicate because he didn't have time, he didn't even have a phone, so there was no communication with anybody to [indicate] that there was a syndicate."
On Tuesday, national police spokesperson Vishnu Naidoo on Tuesday also dispelled rumours that a human trafficking syndicate was operating in South Africa.
"While the suspect was charged with assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm and this was not a case of human trafficking, this has been a reminder to both the authorities as well as every inhabitant of this country of the level of vigilance we need to employ to ensure that people are and feel safe," Naidoo said.
Cost to the family
Ebrahim told Mosaka his family had suffered a great deal, owing to his son's drug addiction.
"My other two boys are actually angry with me because I had to bear the costs for this, I had to pay for rehab - so I couldn't give them what they really needed because I always had to see to [Naseem's] needs.
"I don't even know what to say anymore. We tried our best. I don't know how many rehab centres he's been to."
Naseem's mother died when he was 10 years old, which had a profound effect on him, his father said. "Also, a few years ago, he had a girlfriend but they broke up and she was with another guy. She also passed away."
Ebrahim believes these events may have triggered his son's drug addiction.
"It started at school already. I took him to counselling on Saturdays and then it just [went] from one [institution] to the other."
He said his son would come back from rehab but relapse within a few months.
"It's been a very difficult situation for us."
Naseem Slamang will appear in the Roodepoort Magistrate's Court again on Thursday.
- Compiled by Riaan Grobler