‘Korkie’s abductors won’t give in to more delays’

2014-01-20 00:00

THE abductors who are holding Pierre Korkie hostage in Yemen will not give another postponement to enable his family to raise a ransom.

This is the dire prediction of Professor Hussein Solomon, expert on terrorism and lecturer in political sciences at the University of the Free State.

The abductors of Korkie, a former teacher from Bloemfontein, had initially set Saturday morning as the deadline to raise more than R32 million, but postponed this to February 8.

The abductors on Wednesday stopped communicating with the office of Gift of the Givers in Yemen, where Anas al-Hamati had put his life in danger to negotiate with the Al-Qaeda terrorists.

They responded to Al-Hamati’s message on Friday and agreed to meet him. Al-Hamati had to travel to a province in Yemen to meet with the abductors on Saturday morning at about 4 am.

Dr Imtiaz Sooliman, founder and chair of Gift of the Givers, confirmed that Korkie was still alive, but said he was not healthy.

Sooliman said the abductors undertook to negotiate with Gift of the Givers on Korkie’s release.

Solomon said the fact that the abductors had postponed the deadlines showed they were desperate for money.

Solomon hoped, however, that Korkie would be released without a ransom being paid, just like his wife, Yolandé, had been on January 10. She is safely back in South Africa with the couple’s teenage children in Bloemfontein.

Solomon said if a ransom is paid for Korkie’s release, it could hold serious implications for South Africa.

“It worries me that South Africans may in future be seen as soft targets [to be abducted].”

Sooliman said Al-Qaeda are waging war in Yemen and their death threats had to be taken seriously.

He referred to an incident on Saturday in the Yemeni capital, Sana’a, in which an Iranian diplomat, Ali Asghar Assadiin, died in a shoot-out outside the Iranian ambassadorial residence.

Sooliman is worried about Korkie’s health and has asked his wife, a former nurse, to supply him with more information on her husband’s condition. Yolandé told a media conference her husband had a hernia and kidney problems. Sooliman will also ask a medical expert in Bloemfontein for his opinion.

Al-Hamati has been involved in the negotiations for the Korkies’ release since they were abducted on May 27. The abductors initially insisted on only negotiating through him.

Sooliman said Al-Hamati had discovered his wife was pregnant when Yolandé was released. He had, however, continued to negotiate with the abductors for Korkie’s release.

Deputy International Relations Minister Ebrahim Ebrahim has, meanwhile, left for Yemen to meet with government representatives there on the issue.

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