Government makes last-ditch effort to save Pierre Korkie

2014-01-17 12:33

International Relations Deputy Minister Ebrahim Ebrahim will jet off to Yemen tomorrow in a bid to secure the release of South African teacher Pierre Korkie.

Korkie is being held hostage by al-Qaeda, which has demanded a ransom of about R32 million for his release.

The deadline for the payment of the ransom is today, but his family and the charity organisation Gift of the Givers Foundation have appealed for the extension of the deadline by a month if the Islamist group refuses to release Korkie unconditionally.

The department of international relations and cooperation has announced that Ebrahim would travel to Yemen to consult with that Middle Eastern country’s government and other stakeholders over the matter.

“It is hoped that the visit by Deputy Minister Ebrahim to Yemen will result in Mr Korkie being released unharmed and as soon as possible.

“The South African government takes interest in the wellbeing of its citizens, including when they are in distress or danger in foreign countries,” said departmental spokesperson Nelson Kgwete.

Kgwete said it was hoped Ebrahim’s involvement would send a message that the government was prepared to play some role in securing the Bloemfontein teacher’s release.

The government was not necessarily working according to the eight-day deadline set by the kidnappers, he said.

Kgwete said South Africa’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Sadiq Jaffer, had been dispatched to deal with the abduction crisis since the Korkies were kidnapped in May last year.

“We have just not been speaking about it publicly because of the sensitivities involved,” Kgwete said.

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