D-Day for kidnapped SA man in Yemen

2014-01-17 10:33
Pierre Korkie (Photo supplied)

Pierre Korkie (Photo supplied)

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Yolande Korkie begs Al Qaeda to free husband

2014-01-17 08:33

The wife of a man being held by Al Qaeda in Yemen pleaded for his release as the kidnapper's deadline for his ransom approached.WATCH

Johannesburg - Friday marks the deadline for Pierre Korkie's family to hand over US$3m (about R32.5m) to his kidnappers in exchange for his safe return.

Korkie and his wife Yolande were kidnapped by al-Qaeda militants in Taiz, Yemen, in May. She was released and returned to South Africa on Monday.

The disaster relief organisation, Gift of the Givers Foundation, which helped negotiate Yolande Korkie's release, is still negotiating with the kidnappers for her husband's freedom.

Foundation head Imtiaz Sooliman said on Thursday it had told al-Qaeda that the ransom was too high, and the eight days given to raise the money was not enough time.

Govt doesn’t negotiate with kidnappers

The foundation's office manager in Yemen, Anas al-Hamati, said the kidnappers had threatened to kill Korkie if they did not receive the payout.

On Friday, the international relations department said it would not be involved in the ransom talks.

"Our policy is well-known to the public that government does not negotiate or pay ransom to kidnappers," spokesperson Nelson Kgwete said.

"We are involved in efforts to free him through diplomatic channels. We are in contact with the family and the government of Yemen," Kgwete said.

"There hasn't been much progress, though, since Mrs Korkie's release."

‘Please free my husband’

Speaking at a media briefing in Johannesburg on Thursday, a frail Yolande Korkie begged al-Qaeda to release her husband.

"Al-Qaeda, I ask to address you. Thank you for releasing me and giving me back to our children, treating us with kindness and respect, and bringing my husband medicine... I'm asking you to release my husband," she said.

"We are asking you to show mercy, to please show tolerance."

The couple have been married for 20 years. At the time of the kidnapping, Pierre Korkie was a teacher in Yemen, while his wife did relief work in hospitals.

It was believed that al-Qaeda kidnapped the couple thinking they were US citizens. Sooliman could not be reached for comment on Friday.

- SAPA
Read more on:    al-qaeda  |  gift of the givers  |  imtiaz sooliman  |  pierre korkie  |  yemen
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