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Korkie kidnapping: ransom deadline passes

Negotiators say Yemeni kidnappers have ended contact after being told no ransom could be paid.

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

JOHANNESBURG - A deadline for a R30 million rand ransom demanded by al-Qaeda for the safe return of a South African man being held hostage in Yemen has now passed.

Negotiators say there's been no communication with the kidnapers since Thursday.

Yolande Korkie had until 6am today to pay the money for the release of her husband Pierre who was captured by militants in May last year.

South African relief group Gift of the Givers led the talks and has appealed to al-Qaeda to release Korkie without any ransom being paid.

But Gift of the Givers Chairman Imtiaz Sooliman says there's been no word from al-Qaeda since Yolande made it clear she could not afford to pay the ransom.

"For the first time, they didn't talk back. They just stayed quiet. When you call them back, they don't take the call."

The 43-year-old woman is now waiting to find out if her husband will be allowed to come home after pleading with the militants to give him up, saying Pierre is also experiencing health problems.

"Show mercy, show tolerance. Forgiveness, as we forgive you. Please release Pierre. Please release the children's father. They miss him desperately."

Yolande Korkie attends a press conference in Johannesburg, 16 January 2014. Picture: Govan Whittles/EWN.

Gift of the Givers has also confirmed it's moved its negotiator in Yemen to a place of safety.

The Deputy Minister of International Relations Ebrahim Ebrahim will fly to Yemen today in a bid to secure Pierre's safe return.