'Proof of life' of kidnapped SA photojournalist Shiraaz Mohamed received

2018-01-09 09:39
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 – The Gift of the Givers said on Tuesday that they had received proof that South African photojournalist Shiraaz 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, and were told that Mohamed had been held for "questioning".

The Gift of the Givers foundation's Dr Imtiaz Sooliman said on Tuesday morning that they had received proof of life.

The humanitarian organisation’s head of the Ar Rahma Hospital in Syria, Dr Ahmad Ghandour, spearheaded the search for Mohamed and, on December 26, received a message telling him not to not talk to anyone else.

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

List of 10 questions

Sooliman said the Gift of the Givers responded, saying they had received numerous similar messages and prepared a list of 10 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 Shiraaz sends "salaams" to his mother and family and to the Gift of the Givers, that he is very happy with the questions and wants to be released ASAP.

"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 10 questions were correctly answered and it could only be from Shiraaz," he said.

Read more on:    shiraaz mohamed  |  syria  |  johannesburg  |  media  |  kidnappings

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