Yemen kidnappers: Korkie still alive

Gift of the Givers says its negotiators have made contact again with the al-Qaeda militants.

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

JOHANNESBURG - South African relief group Gift of the Givers says they've made contact with al-Qaeda operatives who have held Pierre Korkie captive in Yemen since May last year.

The kidnappers had insisted on a Friday deadline for the R30 million ransom to be paid which was then extended to and passed at 6am today.

Negotiators told the kidnappers the ransom would be impossible to raise on time, at which point contact was lost.

But the group's Imtiaz Sooliman says the contact was re-established today and a stay of execution will now extend for the next three weeks.

"They also volunteered information that Pierre is not in good health. After a break in communication for almost 72 hours, we called them last night at 11pm and left a message that we need to meet."

He says a "cordial and decent" meeting was then held at 4am.

"We agreed to pursue further discussions in the days to come."

Meanwhile, Deputy Minister of International Relations Ebrahim Ebrahim is expected to arrive in Yemen at any time today.

Ebrahim will be meeting with officials from the Yemeni government and negotiators who have been trying to persuade al-Qaeda to release Korkie.