The man who prevented an alleged child snatching at a Johannesburg restaurant, which was captured on video, says his years of martial arts training took over in a split second.

  • A restaurant owner said his years of martial arts training kicked in when a man allegedly attempted to abduct a child at his restaurant. 
  • Dishal Sooku reacted within seconds of the incident and tackled the man to the ground. 
  • He said he never thought he’d do anything like this. 

“When I think about it now, I couldn’t imagine ever doing anything like that…”
Dishal Sooku, 38, a Johannesburg restaurant owner, is a soft-spoken, humble man with an infectious chuckle, but he is not to be trifled with. 
This was clear in a video of an alleged attempt to abduct a child at Sooku’s restaurant* in Florida, Roodepoort, which was captured on Thursday and has been taking social media by storm. 
In the video, two women and a little girl can be seen sitting at a table on the veranda of the restaurant. A man suddenly jumps over the railing and lunges towards the child. One of the women tries to grab the child from the man’s grasp as Sooku tackles him to the ground and holds him there in a strong chokehold. The man is then handed over to security officials. 
Sooku told News24 he and his father were sitting at a table on the veranda.
“My dad noticed a suspicious-looking guy and told me to keep an eye on him.  
Martial arts training kicked in
“Suddenly he started running towards us and I saw him going straight for this kid. And that’s when I reacted.”
It wasn’t just sheer luck that was on Sooku’s side.
“I’ve had many years of martial arts experience, jujitsu being my main discipline. So it was years of training that just kicked in in that split second…
“You know, a lot of people have asked me how I reacted so quickly and how did I know what to do; even my wife asked me, ‘did you plan this thing?’…
“A big part of martial arts is that you learn to control the situation, and I think that is what happened. I needed to control him so that he could let go of this child – it was a combination of training and awareness and all that.” 
Sooku said the attacker was not armed – a detail he could notice simply by studying his movements.
“When he jumped over the railing, he used both his hands, for example, and when he attacked [the girl], there was no stabbing action when he held her. so I could tell he had no weapons.”
Sooku added that he had no idea why the attacker acted in the way he did.
“When I fought him, there was a lot of swearing going on, but once the security guard and the cops took over, I stepped away. He didn’t say anything to me.”
Musing about the incident afterwards, Sooku said he was almost surprised that he acted the way he did.
‘How did I do that?’
“I saw the video again and I thought, how did I do that? All those thoughts go through your mind. But I guess, at that moment, when I saw that little girl, everything else just took over.”
While Sooku did not have any contact with the girl’s family again, he said he hoped she was okay. 
“She was very traumatised and shaken, obviously – I just hope and pray that she’s okay…” 
Police spokesperson Captain Kay Makhubele confirmed the incident on Friday.
According to Makhubele, the incident took place at a pizza restaurant on Thursday at about 17:00.
“The complainant was at the [restaurant] with her 4-year-old child when an unknown male came and grabbed the child by her neck as if he wanted to take her. The mother and the child screamed and with the help of the shop owner and the community, the suspect was apprehended.”
The 24-year-old man appeared in the Roodepoort Magistrate’s Court on a charge of assault on Friday morning.  
News24 is awaiting feedback about the suspect from the National Prosecuting Authority.
*Sooku requested that the name of his restaurant not be published.
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