Kidnapped SA photographer's family distances itself from NGO's deal claim

2017-02-22 19:08
SA photojournalist Shiraaz Mohamed, who has been kidnapped in Syria. (Facebook)

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

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Durban - The family of missing South African photojournalist, Shiraaz Mohamed, have broken their silence, expressing concerns over claims made by a Cape Town-based NGO that it was negotiating his release.

Speaking on behalf of the family, Mohamed’s sister, Sumaya, 36, said the family was concerned about reports that surfaced last Friday, where an organisation called Truth Collective South Africa, told the media that it was working with Mohamed’s abductors, to have him returned home safely and unharmed.

Her 38-year-old brother was kidnapped in Syria by a group of men near Darkush en-route to Turkey in January.

"We have never heard of or from TCSA or what their plan of action is. The first time we heard about them was in the news last week. It [the news] came as a huge shock to us," she said.

Last week, TCSA’s Bakar al Maharmeh told Jacaranda FM that he had gone to Syria for 12 days in January in an effort to facilitate Mohamed’s release.

He further claimed that he had made contact with a mediator between the rebel groups and the Syrian government and that it had been established that Mohamed was alive and being held by Jabhat al-Nusra in Idlib. He further claimed that he was being assisted by the South African government and the Syrian government to facilitate Mohamed’s release.

'We did not consent to any such deal'

A swap deal has reportedly been made and Jabhat al-Nusra was offering to trade Mohamed for the release of four of their members held by the Syrian government, according to reports.

Last Friday, the Department of International Relations and the Gift of the Givers, which has been assisting the family since Mohamed went missing, distanced themselves from the reports.

Sumaya Mohamed said the family was not informed about the deal and did not consent to any prisoner swap deal. What concerned them further was that there was no proof of life.

"They say they have proof of life, but it is one individual who has apparently seen a video clip. There is no proof to substantiate what he is saying.

“We were not informed of the deal nor did we consent to any such deal. Prisoner swaps are highly dangerous and risky and could further endanger his life. What if something goes wrong? There is a risk he could lose his life."

According to what the family had read, Mohamed said, the organisation was not registered.

"The information available does not show that they have the necessary experience to deal with such a matter."

She pleaded with South Africans to continue to pray for her brother’s safe return.

READ: Raids, arrests in search for Shiraaz Mohamed - NGO

‘Please pray’

Gift of the Givers are in constant contact with the family and are assisting in trying to find Mohamed.

"We have faith in their abilities. We thank everyone for their support and ask that everyone please continue to pray for our brother’s safe and swift return," she said.

The Citizen reported on Thursday that the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has also denied claims by TCSA.

Red Cross spokesperson Iolanda Jaquemet told the paper that she had checked with her colleagues, and that the ICRC in Syria was not aware of this case.

The paper asked Al Maharmeh for evidence about its community projects and he reportedly referenced the reporter to TCSA’s Facebook page, "which, while carrying news of aid to Syria by other – mainly Russian – organisations, showed no actual work by the Truth Collective".

Read more on:    shiraaz mohamed  |  durban  |  syria

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24

Competition regulation for a growing and inclusive economy

ADVERTORIAL: The Competition Commission of South Africa is conducting advocacy work in the South African automotive aftermarket industry and has gazetted a Draft Code of Conduct for public comment.


6 myths about male cancer

It is important to be aware of the most prevalent cancer diseases amongst men in our country.


You won't want to miss...

Who are the highest paid models of 2017?
10 gorgeous plus-sized models who aren't Ashley Graham
5 top leg exercises for men
10 best dressed men of 2017
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.