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Machel’s emotional letter on kidnapped girls

Former president Nelson Mandela’s widow told the schoolgirls’ parents not to lose hope.

Former president Nelson Mandela's widow Graca Machel. Picture: Pool.

JOHANNESBURG - Former president Nelson Mandela's widow Graca Machel has written an emotional letter to the 284 girls who have been kidnapped by militant group Boko Haram in Nigeria.

The girls were abducted from their school dormitory in Chibok last month.

A further eight girls were kidnapped from Warabe earlier this week.

The abduction has triggered an international outcry with some countries now coming forward offering assistance to bring the schoolgirls home.

Machel, who is still in mourning after Madiba's death, addressed the letter to the parents of the missing girls, calling on them not to lose hope.

Graca Machel Trust spokesperson Sisonke Msimang says many on the continent look to her as a mother figure, given her credibility as a person who has championed the rights of women and children.

"She also wanted to make it known to the parents that she was also concerned and that something needs to be done by the authorities."

Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau has threatened in a video to sell the girls "on the market".

Meanwhile, local artists and ordinary South Africans marched from Sandton to the Nigerian Consulate in Rosebank this afternoon, demanding the government intensify efforts to find the girls.

Demonstrators said the world cannot turn a blind eye to acts of terrorism taking place on the continent.

Prince Adibe, a Nigerian national living in South Africa, said he dropped everything to take part in the protest.

He also called on the world to take action.