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Govt: We won’t use money to save Korkie

Government says it will not waver from its policy of not negotiating financially with terrorists.

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

JOHANNESBURG - Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Ebrahim Ebrahim is expected to arrive in Yemen this morning where he will join efforts to secure kidnap victim Pierre Korkie's safe return home to South Africa.

The deputy minister was due to arrive in the country yesterday but the department now says he will arrive at some point today.

Ebrahim is expected to meet with his political counterparts there as part of the bid.

But his department has declared it will definitely not participate in monetary negotiations with the al-Qaeda kidnappers.

"As government, we are not working according to the deadlines because those deadlines are for money," the department's Nelson Kgwete explains.

Pierre's wife Yolande Korkie had until 6am on Saturday to pay a R30 million ransom to her husband's captors.

But relief group Gift of the Givers, which is spearheading negotiations, secured a 3-week extension for the demand.

However, Yolande and the group say they are increasingly concerned over Korkie's health.

When the extension was given by the kidnappers, they also revealed that Korkie's health was worsening, as had been feared.

Gift of the Givers negotiator Annas Ali believes a ransom will most probably have to be paid due to the increasing stakes.

Meanwhile, Gift of the Givers founder Imtiaz Sooliman says, after prolonged silence this week, the kidnappers do seem ready to negotiate again.

"The feeling was much better than it was earlier this week when it was very cold, very distant."

Sooliman says they are now trying to regain the kidnappers' trust before dealings begin again.

"[We will] talk about building the relationship so that we understand each other better."

Pierre and Yolande were captured by the militants in May last year while teaching in Yemen.

Yolande was released earlier this month and told by her captors her husband's life would be in her hands.