An attempted kidnapping incident in the parking lot at The Atrium in Overport, KwaZulu-Natal, on Saturday, 24 February, Berea Mail reports.
The incident left a child traumatised and a father angry and shocked over the brazen incident.
Niles Brijlal said his wife was walking with his sons from the parking lot to the centre and he was following a few metres behind when a man walked up to one of his sons, put his hands on his shoulders, and started walking away with him.
“He didn’t know I was following behind. I screamed and ran after him and tried to pull my son out of his hands. The man obviously didn’t realise I was his father. I managed to free his hands, but he grabbed him again. He just stood there, holding my son,” said Brijlal.
He said he called to the car guard to call security while his son screamed in terror.
He tried to free him from the man who was still holding him.
“I eventually used force on the man’s face to free my son. I just acted on instinct to try and save him. The guy ran away but my wife saw him hiding by nearby cars, and I ran after him and caught him. Some guys from the community helped me detain him while the security company arrived and handcuffed him,” he said.
Brijlal said he searched the man and said he did not have any car keys in his possession, so there was no reason why he should be in the car park.
“It was scary how he was fighting for my child and did not run away when he realised I was his father!” he said.
He called 10111 and Berea SAPS arrived within five minutes, but Brijlal said he got the impression that the officer was not interested in arresting the man.
“He asked if my child was OK, then said he would detain the man. I said I would be opening a case of attempted kidnapping and made sure the man was taken to the police station. He was taken out of the vehicle with no handcuffs on and I walked behind him to make sure he didn’t try escape,” he said.
Brijlal opened a case at Berea SAPS, and said he would be following up with the investigator.
“This is a traumatic case, it is very sad. My son was brave, but I can see it is affecting him, he is playing up and doesn’t want to be alone. I will be taking him to a counsellor,” he said.
He said he had contacted The Atrium to request CCTV camera footage, but was told there were no cameras in the parking lot, only at the booms.
“It frightens me to think of what could have happened to my son. This man had no car keys, so there must have been a car waiting to take him. I want to warn parents that this stuff is real and really happens. Parents need to look after their children and be aware. I also thank the community for helping, as I wouldn’t have been able to do it alone,” he said.
When contacted for comment, Mohamed Suleman from The Atium said the matter had been handed over the police and management could not comment at this stage.