SA yet to meet US over Korkie's death

Dirco says it is yet to meet with US officials following the death of Pierre Korkie.

Pierre Korkie and US journalist Luke Somers were shot during a failed US Special Forces mission intended to free Somers. Picture: EWN

JOHANNESBURG - The Department of International Relations and Cooperation (Dirco) says its officials are yet to meet with their counterparts from the United States for a debriefing on how South African teacher Pierre Korkie was killed in Yemen.

LISTEN: Chairman of Gift of the Givers, Imtiaz Sooliman expresses his disappointment.

Korkie was caught in crossfire between al-Qaeda and US Special Forces in a botched rescue mission at the weekend.

Special Forces were trying to rescue American photojournalist, Luke Somers and claim they had no idea Korkie was there.

The US claims both hostages were executed by the terrorists who were alerted to the raid by a barking dog only 100 metresaway from where they were being kept.

Department spokesperson Nelson Kgwete says this is yet to be confirmed.

"Minute-by-minute details of what happened during the rescue attempt will only be dealt with after we receive a detailed brief on the entire operation."

Korkie was kidnapped with his wife Yolande by al-Qaeda militants while working as a school teacher in Yemen in May last year.

In January this year, militants released his wife and demanded a R35 million ransom for his safe release.

Meanwhile, US Ambassador to South Africa, Patrick Gaspard, says those involved in the failed rescue mission in Yemen had no idea Korkie was being kept in the same place as Somers.

Gaspard says US President Barack Obama authorised the mission because there was legitimate information that Somers was to be executed within 72 hours.

It remains unknown whether the two were murdered by their captors or by accident.

Korkie was reportedly set to be released on Sunday after lengthy negotiations.

Gaspard says they did not want Somers to meet the same fate as other hostages in recent months.

"The US government was absolutely unaware of negotiations between Gift of the Givers and these brutal al-Qaeda hostage takers. We were also unaware that Pierre Korkie was being held in the same space as Luke Somers."

LISTEN: US ambassador to South Africa, Patrick Gaspard, expressed condolences to the Korkie family and South Africa.


Cape Town Anglican archbishop Thabo Makgoba has also sent his condolences to Korkie's widow and family.

Makgoba appealed to all nations to expose those who maintain extremist groups like al-Qaeda.

He said questions have to be asked about who benefits from acts of terror and what is missing to prevent hostage taking and killings like these.

The archbishop urged global leaders to address militant groups' grievances which are fuelling extremism.

South African international relations officials are today preparing to bring back Korkie's body from the country.

At the same time, Comrades Marathon runner Zola Budd has extended her condolences to the family.

Budd's manager Ray De Vries says the athlete remembers Korkie as someone who put his athlete's well-being before his own.

"She said he was amazing because he always put the athlete's first and not all coaches do that and he was always there for her, which is what she needed during trying times."

Click here to read the full statement released by the Korkie family.