$1.5 million ransom sought for SA photographer Shiraaz Mohamed's release

2019-05-04 17:50
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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A US$1.5 million (R21.5 million) ransom has been requested by the captors of photojournalist Shiraaz Mohamed to secure his release.

Humanitarian organisation Gift of the Givers founder Dr Imtiaz Sooliman said the ransom demand came following the proof of life video that the organisation received from Shiraaz's captors in Syria on April 26.

"They called this week to commence negotiations on the way forward. The demand for Shiraaz's release is $1.5 million. We made it clear that this was not possible. We stated that Shiraaz's family does not have the means, nor is Shiraaz the employee of a large corporate company that could assist with payment and the South African government will not pay. They said they [are] giving us time to consider options.

WATCH: Video of photojournalist Shiraaz Mohamed proof of life released, more than 2 years after his abduction

"In a subsequent conversation we said the figure was too high. They said it was negotiable. They called again on Thursday evening, they seemed anxious and said they need to conclude this deal urgently. The Russians were bombing South Idlib and North Hama very aggressively and they are afraid that Shiraaz could be killed in the bombing."

Mohamed was captured on April 10, 2017, 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, and were told that Mohamed had been held for "questioning". He is believed to have been held in captive since then.

Possible consequences

"We went to Shiraaz's family today to explain this new development and possible consequences. This is exactly what Shiraaz was afraid of in the video where he makes a plea for assistance to secure his release. Our hospital in Syria has confirmed that the bombing has increased substantially, that the medical administration in Idlib has requested Gift of the Givers Ar Rahma Hospital to be one of the facilities to be on standby to receive patients from a distance is 70km. We have received the first two patients yesterday."

The organisation is currently engaging with religious leaders to provide letters requesting the unconditional release of Shiraaz immediately, to prevent a tragedy.

"We lost Pierre Korkie on the day that his release was secured, Stephen McGown's mother passed on one month before Stephen was released, we certainly don't want to live through another such incident," said Sooliman.

Read more on:    gift of the givers  |  shiraaz mohamed
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