Freed SA hostage begs for husband's freedom

2014-01-16 14:18
Pierre Korkie (Photo supplied)

Pierre Korkie (Photo supplied)

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Johannesburg - The wife of the man being held by al-Qaeda in Yemen pleaded on Thursday for his release as the kidnappers' deadline for his ransom approached.

Yolande Korkie, wife of Pierre Korkie, appeared gaunt and frail as she read a statement to reporters in Johannesburg.

"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."

Speaking softly because of a throat infection, she added: "I'm asking you to release my husband."

She became emotional when talking about her husband.

On Friday, the kidnappers demanded payment of about R32.5m within eight days to secure Korkie's release.

Negotiations had not been going well, said Dr Imtiaz Sooliman, head of the Gift of the Givers Foundation, which negotiated Yolande's release last week.

‘No money, price too high’

The organisation's officer manager in Yemen, Anas al-Hamati, started face-to-face talks with the kidnappers, linked to al-Qaeda, on Monday night.

"While Anas was with them the al-Qaeda guys called me and asked what's the problem. I said there's no money, the price is too high and the time is too short," Sooliman said earlier in the week.

"Anas discussed the same points. They kept on saying if we don't have the money by Friday it will be the end for Pierre."

Yolande Korkie arrived back in South Africa on Monday afternoon, international relations and co-operation department spokesperson Clayson Monyela said.

The couple was captured in the city of Taiz in May.

Sooliman said on Monday Al-Hamati would take copies of Korkie's South African passport to the kidnappers to prove he was not American, because the amount of money they wanted was outrageous.

Sooliman said at the time that Al-Hamati had "good rapport" with the kidnappers.

"We are hoping we can convince them we need more time."

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