'We can't raise R30 million for Korkie'

Imtiaz Sooliman says for the first time since negotiations started, the al-Qaeda group didn't respond.

Yolande Korkie with Gift of the Givers’ Dr Imtiaz Sooliman at a press conference in Johannesburg on 16 January 2014. Picture: Govan Whittles/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Head of relief group Gift of the Givers Imtiaz Sooliman says al-Qaeda militants have been told that it will not be possible to raise the more than R30 million demanded as a ransom for South African Pierre Korkie.

Korkie and his wife Yolande were kidnapped by the terror group in Yemen nine months ago after being mistaken for Americans.

She was freed last week.

Sooliman says his negotiator in Yemen spoke to the militants again last night.

"Last night we made a call to re-emphasise that no matter what happens we will not be able to get R30 million. Even if they extended the time there's no way anybody can raise that amount so we don't want to give false hope."

But he says for the first time since negotiations started, the al-Qaeda group did not respond.

"Normally they would say something so when we called them back they didn't take the call. We don't know whether they are angry, thinking or reflecting."

The group has demanded that the ransom be delivered within the next 48 hours and warned that if this is not done, Pierre will be beheaded.

Pierre Korkie is being held hostage by al-Qaeda militants in the Yemeni city of Taiz. Main picture: AFP. Inset picture: Supplied.

Meanwhile, Korkie's Cape Town friends say they are constantly praying for his safe return and have described him as a caring man who has devoted his life to others.

Capetonian Blackie Swart says he taught alongside Korkie at Grey College in Bloemfontein many years ago.

Swart says the Korkies are God-fearing, caring people who have dedicated their lives to helping others.

"He was a very committed teacher. He gave everything to his children. He was a very good friend."

Swart's wife Freda says everyone is very nervous about what is going to happen next.

"I know there are lot of people in Bloemfontein who've started to raise money."