International Relations Minister Lindiwe Sisulu has vowed to engage with partners abroad to continue to secure the release of SA photojournalist Shiraaz Mohamed after a video of him was released recently.
During a media briefing on Tuesday at the Department of International Relations and Cooperation’s (Dirco) head office in Tshwane, Sisulu told journalists that she was hoping for a happy ending.
“We have noted the latest information released by the Gift of the Givers about a South African, Mr Shiraaz Mohamed, who was abducted in Syria in 2017,” Sisulu said.
“Dirco will continue engaging relevant partners abroad to secure his release. We have and will continue to keep the family informed of the developments.”
It has been more than two years since Mohamed was captured in Syria while on his way back to the Turkish border after accompanying Gift of the Givers.
The two drivers who were captured with Mohamed were released immediately and were told that Mohamed had been held for “questioning”. It is believed that he has been held in captive since then, although very little information has emerged since his disappearance.
The video, which News24 published on Sunday, was sent to the humanitarian organisation as proof of life.
In it is a masked man clad in a black top and camouflage pants, who wields an assault rifle as Mohamed kneels in the foreground and begs for help.
“Dr Imtiaz Sooliman, my South African president, my family, my friends, the international community, anyone that can help… I need your help,” he said.
“I live in fear of my life… I am scared. The area that I am in is being bombed by the Russian air force… the bombs are getting closer and closer and closer. I need your help. Please help me.”
Sisulu was asked about South Africa’s policy on hostage and ransom negotiations but she would not be drawn into the issue and cited the sensitivity of the matter as a reason.
“What is our policy on ransom? We don’t discuss those matters. We have not been confronted with that directly and we would not want to discuss this matter that might jeopardise the journalist.”
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