The distraught family of a local businessman are praying for his safe return after he was abducted by four armed men.
Naushad Deshmukh, the owner of clothing store Khans Punjabi, was kidnapped outside his shop in Hadji Ebrahim Crescent, Athlone, on Monday evening.
They bundled him into the back of a white double-cab bakkie and drove off with him.
Naushad, 46, had just locked up his shop with his 51-year-old manager when the heavily armed men, carrying handguns and assault rifles, walked up to him demanding — according to the witness — a bag.
The Daily Voice visited the Constantia home of the family, who are sick with worry.
A family member, who wished to remain anonymous, says the woman with Khan told the kidnappers that her handbag was in the car.
The relative says: “From what we know, they were looking for a bag of money, which Naushad did not have, but the manager thought they meant her handbag and she directed them to it.
“They never entered the shop. They never robbed the shop. When they took him, they did not hurt him or the manager. That is what we know.
“Since then we have heard nothing from them or him. No ransom demand and the bakkie is just gone.
“He was a family man and would want to get back to us immediately,” she says emotionally.
Naushad’s wife, Nafeesah sat in the other room, emotional and crying, while relatives detailed the circumstances of her husband’s disappearance.
Family members were on edge, waiting by the phone for any news. The couple have three children.
The family says the security camera at the store was recently stolen and wasn’t replaced.
The surrounding shops have cameras, but neither Mukhtar Hiring on the left and Hilite on the right of Khan’s Punjabi detected what happened on Monday night.
A concerned family member says: “We just want him home. We are hopeful.
“We have no real feedback as nothing has been found. None of his credit cards have been used yet and we have received no calls.
“We are worried. It’s been two days already and nothing has come up.”
The police’s Lieutenant Colonel Andrè Traut confirmed Deshmukh’s disappearance.
“A 46-year-old business man and his 51-year-old female colleague were approached by a group of four armed suspects at around 5.40pm when they left their business in Hadji Ebrahim Crescent, Athlone,” he says.
“He is yet to be found. The female victim was left behind on the scene and was not injured during the incident.”
Any person with information on the victim’s whereabouts is requested to contact Crime Stop on 08600 10111.