Pierre Korkie's son describes hopeless ordeal during hostage drama

Korkie was killed during crossfire when American Special Forces were attempting to free a US hostage in 2014.

Yolande Korkie and her family and members of the Gift of Givers Foundation at the launch of her book '558 Days' at Grey College in Bloemfontein on 22 February 2016. Picture: Reinart Toerien/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - The son of a Bloemfontein couple who was held hostage by al-Qaeda militants in Yemen has described how hopeless he felt during the ordeal.

Pieter-Ben Korkie' parents, Pierre and Yolande, were abducted in 2013 while working in the country.

Yesterday, Yolande released her book 558 days, which details their ordeal.

Korkie was killed during crossfire when American Special Forces were attempting to free a US hostage in 2014.

Pieter-Ben was 16 years when both his parents were abducted and taken in hostage by al-Qaeda in Yemen.

He and his younger sister were waiting at their villa in Yemen and when informed about what happened 15 minutes after their parents disappeared, he said as much as they wanted to help find his parents, they simply couldn't.

"The hopeless feeling was very bad because you're in different country, you don't understand the language very well."

He said they could only pray.

"The whole time we're thinking like it's a bad dream, can't we just wake up now."

With the passion for the less fortunate people, Korkie said he wishes to continue with his father's work.


Yolande said although her life will never be the same after the couple's abduction, she has now found closure and healing after writing a book about their painful experience.

Yolande was rescued and reunited with their two children in the beginning of 2014, while the Gift of the Givers organisation still tried to negotiate her husband's release.

She addressed pupils at Grey College in Bloemfontein, the same school where her husband Pierre worked for 24 years, reflecting on a long journey for her and her family.

Yolande said it was painful to relive the time as a hostage and to go through Pierre's personal journals in order to write the book.

Pierre wrote letters to his wife and two children, which made their way back to them after he died.

Yolande said for the first time she truly understands the meaning of life and its value.