Abducted couple not alone

2013-08-14 00:00

AS the South African couple who were abducted in Yemen on May 27 enter their 13th week as hostages, a sliver of new information about their condition has come to light.

Gift of the Givers founder and chair, Dr Imtiaz Sooliman, yesterday relayed this new information about Pierre and Yolandé Korkie via his representatives in Yemen.

Sooliman said he received the information about the former Bloemfontein teachers from the Gift of the Givers representative in Yemen, Anas al-Hamati; and a local tribal leader, Sheik Hussain.

The Korkies were abducted in front of a hotel in the city of Taiz by nine men. They have lived and worked in Yemen for almost four years. Pierre is involved with the Rafah Foundation for Development, a non-governmental organisation.

Sooliman said the latest information was that the Korkies are being held in Ibb province with a Dutch couple and an Iranian diplomat.

Judith Spiegel, a journalist for Radio Nederland Wêreldwyd (RNW), and her husband, Boudewijn Berendsen, were grabbed from their home in June. On a video uploaded on the Internet by “Desert Lion” on July 13, Spiegel pleaded for their lives. Berendsen repeated on the video that they were “very, very afraid”. He said they would be there “for ever or dead in 10 days” unless something was done.

The abductors demanded that the Dutch government pay a ransom for its citizens.

RNW editor William Valkenburg had appealed to the captors to release the couple.

Sooliman said no ransom had been demanded for the Korkies.

He said his organisation had received offers from several people who said they could help to negotiate the release of the Korkies, but the organisation was doubtful about how concrete the offers were.

Nelson Kgwete, spokesperson for the South African InternationalRrelations and Co-operation Department, also confirmed no ransom had been demanded for the Korkies.

Kgwete said the South African government’s main source of information remained Yemen’s government and security authorities.

He did, however, confirm that Gift of the Givers had offered to help.

Kgwete could not say if the Korkies were held with the Dutch couple.

The family spokesperson for the Korkies in Bloemfontein said they preferred to use the SA government’s sources for information.

Sooliman said it was not clear if the hostages were held by Al-Qaeda or a gang of criminals.

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