News / South Africa

Yadhana Jadoo
2 minute read
24 Jan 2017
6:20 am

Journo alive, family ‘relieved’

Yadhana Jadoo

Airstrikes, discord in certain groups, have prevented more detailed progress.

Protesters in Syria demand the release of South African photojournalist Shiraz Mohamed.

News that South African photojournalist Shiraaz Mohamed is alive after being abducted in Syria has been met with relief.

“This is the best news ever. The most terrifying thing was not knowing all this time,” Mohamed’s ex-wife, Shirley Brijlal, said.

“Our prayers have been heard, all praises to our creator. I salute the Gift of the Givers and their dedicated teams for their continued efforts.”

Non-governmental relief organisation Gift of the Givers (GOG) yesterday morning said it had received credible information that Mohamed, pictured, is alive. He was snatched earlier this month by gunmen in Syria who had said they “wanted to clear up a misunderstanding”.

He has been missing for two weeks. Brijlal said since the kidnapping there were times her confidence had wavered.

“But we fell back on prayer and our faith. I am filled with gratitude and hope. He just needs to get home now, then all Shiraaz’s loved ones will know for sure that the nightmare of the past two weeks is over,” she said.

“Please continue to hold him, Gift of the Givers, the people of Syria and his captors in your prayers so that negotiations end favourably. We are also grateful to the Syrian people for their love and support. Everyone’s support for Shiraaz has been phenomenal. This attention on the search is the one thing that will keep Shiraaz alive and bring him home safely.”

ALSO READ: Mandela put an end to Absa report, says former British spy 

According to GOG, while protests in Syria for Mohamed’s release have been increasing, it had “created a task team to deal with the issue very strategically”.

“Anas al Hamati, our hostage negotiator from Yemen, had previous experience. Being an Arab and understanding the culture and language is an integral part of that team,” said GOG founder Imtiaz Sooliman.

Sooliman said “the team” members inside Syria and Turkey have been very active.

“And the last three days have been particularly productive. Our limitation to make more detailed progress has been airstrikes and internal discord between certain groups. But in spite of these challenges, we have received excellent cooperation through connected people who, through their own individual research and networks, have confirmed that Shiraaz is alive.”

This, he added, was “just their word, but no proof of life”.

“They confirm the group that is holding him – though there is discrepancy between the different members of this group. They know the location where Shiraaz is held.

“From all our interactions with the different people, including a high-profile Syrian journalist, it appears that their information is credible.”

Sooliman said while this could not be independently verified as yet, the information was not being ignored.

“In the next 48 hours we are expecting more information so we wait patiently.”

 – yadhanaj@citizen.co.za

For more news your way, follow The Citizen on Facebook and Twitter.