Two hostages could be South African

2010-11-08 09:09

The international relations department today was trying to confirm whether two people taken hostage from a yacht off the Somali coastline were South African.

“We have many partners there that will help us [such as] the government’s social development departments and the United Nations,” said spokesperson Saul Kgomotso Molobi.

He said he could not speculate on when the identity of the hostages would be confirmed.

“As soon as investigations are completed then my colleagues will communicate the information to me.”

In a statement yesterday, Molobi said: “We are, with our international partners in Somalia, investigating the identity of the other two kidnapped individuals who are thought to be South African citizens.”

The statement followed reports that a man, who was with a woman and a child on a yacht, was killed by Somali pirates yesterday.

The reports claimed the man was South African.

“The department would like to confirm that the deceased person... who is alleged to have been killed by the Somali pirates, as the media reports purport, is not a South African citizen,” Molobi said.

Reuters reported that a South African man was shot dead on Sunday after he refused to disembark from a yacht hijacked by Somali pirates last week.

The agency reported the man was killed in Barawe town on the southern Somalia coastline by pirates who had taken him hostage and wanted him to go onshore from his yacht in which he was sailing with others, including a woman and a boy.

The report quoted Andrew Mwangura, head of East African Seafarers Assistance Programme, confirming the yacht was anchored off Somalia’s coastline near Barawe.

He said his organisation was investigating reports of a possible hijacking of the sailors, believed to be tourists.

“What I know is there was a yacht spotted by local people in southern Somalia, and we are trying to investigate reports of hostages and to verify their nationality,” Mwangura said.

The agency also quoted an al-Shabaab (an al-Qaeda-linked rebel group which controls Barawe) rebel spokesperson saying the hostage killed was South African.

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