Korkie mystery negotiator may be bogus

2014-02-09 17:15
Pierre Korkie (Photo supplied)

Pierre Korkie (Photo supplied)

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Yolandé Korkie pleads for release of husband

2014-02-06 19:03

Yolandé Korkie has pleaded for the release of her husband, who is held captive by al-Qaeda in Yemen.WATCH

Johannesburg - Claims by an unknown mediator that al-Qaeda militants who kidnapped a South African teacher in Yemen last year,will not execute him despite their ransom deadline being missed, could be bogus, The Gift of the Givers said on Sunday.

"It may well be that someone could have sent this message, but how authentic is this person," asked the organisation's founder Dr Imtiaz Sooliman in a statement.

"First of all there was no tribal mediator involved in Yolande's release except our representative, Anas al-Hamati.

"Where did this mediator suddenly surface from mysteriously?"

Sooliman said in Yemen "everyone is... a 'negotiator' and a 'mediator'".

He said in the nine months that the organisation had tried to locate Pierre and Yolande Korkie since their kidnapping in May, the organisation was approached by many "leaders" who, for a "decent fee" would point out who the kidnappers were, where the Korkies were kept and how they could negotiate their release, Sooliman said.

"All of them without exception were bogus.

"I hope we don't have a similar situation here with the emergence of this mystery tribal mediator.

"Can he produce proof of life? Can he arrange for us to talk to Pierre? If not, we will not pay too much attention to this 'lead'," Sooliman said.

On Saturday, the mediator reportedly told news agency Agence France-Presse (AFP) that Korkie, was "still alive and the prospect of his being executed is excluded".

He reportedly told the agency that he was in contact with the kidnappers and that the situation remained very delicate.

"They cannot free the hostage without the ransom.

"If the South African authorities demonstrate that they are prepared to respond to the demands of the kidnappers, then we can ask that the extension be prolonged," the mediator was quoted as saying.

Concern about Korkie's health

Gift of the Givers' negotiator Anas al-Hamati and his family fled from Yemen in late January and went to Dubai after negotiations soured.

The kidnappers had accused him of keeping the ransom money for himself. They refused to accept that the South African government was not willing to pay the $3m (about R32.5m) ransom.

Korkie and his relief worker wife Yolande were kidnapped by al-Qaeda militants in Taiz, Yemen, in May. Yolande Korkie was released and returned to South Africa on 13 January.

Al-Hamati had been facilitating the negotiations. The last face-to-face talks were held on 18 January.

Sooliman said he was concerned about Korkie's health.

"Has he survived his condition or has he passed on because of complications?

"If he passed on because of medical reasons, is that one of the reasons why al-Qaeda has maintained silence for 13 days now.

"If Pierre is gravely ill but still holding out it is my opinion that they will not execute him for now."

Sooliman said the al-Qaeda leaders would not allow a critically ill man to be executed as it would harm their public image.

- SAPA
Read more on:    al-qaeda  |  yolande korkie  |  pierre korkie  |  imtiaz sooliman  |  yemen  |  abductions
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