Dirco denies knowledge of Korkie’s planned release

Pierre Korkie was allegedly killed in the crossfire when US Special Forces attempted to free a US hostage.

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, 7 February 2014. Picture: Mia Lindeque/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - The Department of International Relations and Cooperation (Dirco) says it was not aware of any plans to have South African school teacher Pierre Korkie released by Al-Qaeda militants in Yemen, just hours after he was killed in a United States attack.

President Barack Obama today confirmed that Korkie was killed along with American journalist Luke Sommer in a drone attack and subsequent raid in central Yemen overnight.

Humanitarian group Gift of the Givers had been facilitating Korkie's release and today confirmed tribal leaders were due to fetch him from his captors on Sunday.

The 53-year-old was kidnapped with his wife Yolande in Yemen last year.

She was released in January of this year and instructed by Al-Qaeda to raise R35 million in ransom money.

Dirco spokesman Nelson Kgwete has denied knowledge of any release plan.

"The details will only emerge later on. At the moment, I am not able to say whether the information was relayed to us beforehand. That remains a rumour to us. We have no heard of it."


In a statement earlier today, Gift of the Givers said the psychological and emotional devastation to Yolande and her family will be compounded by the knowledge that Korkie was to be released on Sunday.

It says a team of Abyan leaders met in Aden this morning and were preparing the final security and logistical arrangements.

The humanitarian organisation says it's even more tragic that the words used in a conversation with Korkie's wife before 6am this morning was 'the wait is almost over'.

His family was expecting him to be home for Christmas.