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SA urged to keep praying for Korkie

Al-Qaeda's ransom deadline to secure Pierre Korkie's release expired yesterday.

A picture of Pierre Korkie is pinned to a notice board at the Christ Church Mayfair in Johannesburg during an inter-faith prayer service calling for his release on 7 February. Picture: Mia Lindeque/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG -Al-Qaeda's ransom deadline for Pierre Korkie's release in Yemen has expired but his family and negotiators have asked South Africans not to stop praying for him to be released as they believe he could still be alive.

The kidnappers had given relief organisation Gift of the Givers, which has led the negotiation process, until yesterday to hand over a R30 million ransom to secure Korkie's release.

Korkie's kidnappers had warned if the cash wasn't paid by yesterday, he would be executed.

Gift of the Givers has not had contact with the kidnappers for two weeks and the family still has to wait for word from the group.

The organisation's Imtiaz Sooliman says there is still hope to get Korkie out alive.

On Friday, Korkie's wife Yolande sent out an emotional video message to the kidnappers via Arab media begging for his release.

In the video, Yolande holds an Ons Stad newspaper with the headline, "Al-Kaïda stil oor Korkie" (al-Qaeda silent over Korkie), as she greets her former captors in Arabic.

She holds hands with her two children for the entire two minute clip and both she and her daughter don head scarfs.

Yolande pleaded with the militants to either free her husband or continue negotiations for his release.

The country joined hands in prayer for Korkie at a multi-faith prayer service at the Christ Church Mayfair on Friday evening.

Korkie and Yolande were taken hostage by al-Qaeda militants in May 2013.

Yolande was released last month.

Negotiators have expressed concern over Korkie's health which is believed to have deteriorated in recent months.