'Added hope' for family of kidnapped SA photojournalist after proof of life

2018-01-09 19:07
SA photojournalist Shiraaz Mohamed, who has been kidnapped in Syria. (Facebook)

SA photojournalist Shiraaz Mohamed, who has been kidnapped in Syria. (Facebook)

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Johannesburg – Kidnapped South African photojournalist Shiraaz Mohamed's sister said the family got "added hope" following proof of life received that he was still alive nearly a year after being captured in Syria.

The Gift of the Givers said on Tuesday that it had received proof of life that Mohamed was still alive.

Wednesday will mark exactly one year since Mohamed was captured in Syria on his way back to the Turkish border after accompanying the Gift of the Givers.

The two drivers who were captured with him were released immediately. They were told that Mohamed had been held for "questioning".

Also read: 'Proof of life' of kidnapped SA photojournalist Shiraaz Mohamed received

Mohamed's sister, Sumaya, said on Tuesday the family was hoping for his swift return to South Africa following a list of questions they had sent which only he could have answered.

"All praise be to The Almighty. We are very happy with the news, it brings added hope especially during my mother's illness," she said.

"We ask that everyone continue to pray for our brother's safe and swift return. We thank Gift of the Givers for their relentless efforts," she said.

Family 'ecstatic'

On Tuesday morning, the Gift of the Givers' Imtiaz Sooliman said one of the organisation's doctors in Syria had worked relentlessly during the search for Mohamed after receiving a message on December 26 not to talk to anyone else.

"Don't talk to anyone but us, we are the door to Shiraaz," the message said.

Sooliman said the Gift of the Givers responded and said the organisation had received numerous such messages and prepared a list of ten questions as surety.

"The voice said 'send the questions you will have the answers soon'. On 2 January the call came again: 'My man is in Syria, he has met Shiraaz, the questions have been answered, we await his return'," Sooliman said.

Shortly before 20:00 on Monday evening, the Gift of the Givers received a message that Mohamed gives "salaams" to his mother and family and to Gift of the Givers. "He is very happy with the questions and wants to be released asap [as soon as possible]," said Sooliman.

"Through Dr Ahmad Ghandour's relentless efforts we started receiving messages from 28 September from at least eight different sources that Shiraaz was alive, one such source stating that he was with Shiraaz on 17 November," Sooliman said.

"But we couldn't give Shiraaz's family false hope as the information could not be verified no matter how credible the source. Last night was the turning point as Shiraaz's family confirmed that all ten questions were correctly answered and it could only be from Shiraaz," he said.

"The family were ecstatic. They all huddled together around the mother, Mrs Shireen Mahomed, and broke out in tears of joy and hope. There was an atmosphere of positivity, a realisation that in spite of all the bombing and unpredictability… Shiraaz was alive," Sooliman said.

Read more on:    gift of the givers  |  shiraaz mohamed

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