'Korkie in bad health'

Al-Qaeda has reportedly warned the Gift of the Givers that Pierre Korkie is in bad health.

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

CAPE TOWN - The Gift of the Givers says the group which is holding a South African hostage in Yemen has made it clear that the victim's health is deteriorating.

The organisation has been part of negotiations for the release of South African couple who were kidnapped in Yemen last May.

Earlier in January, al-Qaeda agreed to release Yolande Korkie, but they are demanding R32 million to free her husband Pierre.

Founder of the organisation Dr Imtiaz Sooliman told the Redi Tlhabi Show the ransom is too steep.

"The road ahead is very dangerous and it's getting more and more intense at the days pass. We have made it very clear to them that there's no way on earth we are going to raise that amount of money. "

Sooliman says the first round of negotiations was tough.

"We went around trying to get information about the kidnappers for months. We had to meet with tribal leaders and that process took us nine months in between projects and travelling. On 6 January, they called us. We didn't find them, they found us and they told us where to meet them."

He says they have to play open cards with the kidnappers.

"The worst thing you can do is lie to them. That's a death sentence for anybody."

He says the group kidnapped the duo thinking they were Americans.

Sooliman says over the weekend they agreed to give them an extension for the ransom to be paid.

"On Saturday morning, we asked if Pierre was still alive and they said yes. We asked if they could stay the execution and they gave us a three-week extension. And then they said something very significant, they said you need to understand that Pierre is in bad health."

Meanwhile, Deputy International Relations Minister Ebrahim Ebrahim arrived in Yemen on Sunday for a two-day visit to try and secure Korkie's release.

The South African government also made it clear it will not pay the ransom money.

Sooliman says they understand the government's position.

"The government's position is right because if you start paying money for hostages, people will get kidnapped in every country and that would be a major issue."

However, he says one cannot just sit back and do nothing.

"But to make it more personal, if you are taken or your family member is taken, what would you expect the rest of the family to do? Are you going to sit back and not pay the ransom because the money will be used to fund terrorism?"