Hostage talks centre on money - Sooliman

2014-01-15 07:05
(Picture: AFP)

(Picture: AFP)

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Johannesburg - Talks to free South African school teacher Pierre Korkie, being held hostage in Yemen, are mainly about the ransom money, the Gift of the Givers said on Tuesday.

"They kept on emphasising money. This morning they went to meet one of the leaders. The talk was again about money," the disaster relief NGO's Dr Imtiaz Sooliman said in an SMS to Sapa.

He said 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.

"Whilst 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.

"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. They will meet tomorrow [Wednesday] again."

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

‘Outrageous amount of money’

The couple was captured in the city of Taiz in May. She was released last week, with the help of the Gift of the Givers.

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

On Friday, the kidnappers demanded payment of US$3m (about R32.5m) within eight days to secure Korkie's release.

"The first aim is to extend the deadline and the next is to see if we can bring down the amount," Sooliman said at the time.

He said Al-Hamati had a "good rapport" with the kidnappers.

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

Sooliman said Yolande Korkie was now focused on organising a campaign in South Africa to raise the money to get her husband freed.

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