Syrian embassy: Shiraaz Mohamed entered Syria unlawfully

The South African photojournalist went missing on 13 January and is believed to have been kidnapped.

FILE: South African Photojournalist  Shiraaz Mohamed. Picture: Facebook.com.

JOHANNESBURG - The Syrian Embassy’s Charge d’Affaires has told Eyewitness News that missing South African Shiraaz Mohamed and the Gift of the Givers humanitarian mission entered Syria unlawfully.

Gift of the Givers has however defended their operation in the country saying there is no government in the rebel-held area where they have a hospital based.

Mohamed went missing on 13 January and is believed to have been kidnapped. However no group has claimed responsibility nor has a ransom been demanded.

Efforts to locate the South African are believed to have been stepped up.

The Syrian embassy’s Charge d'Affaires Kusai Mustafa says Mohamed entered Syria illegally.

“He did not enter Syria through the legal ways, otherwise he should have come to my embassy to get the visas. He entered through the Turkish border as far as we know and he went straight to the areas controlled by the terrorists.”

However, Gift of the Givers' Imtiaz Suliman says the Syrian government is not in control of the area where they operate.

“That area is controlled by the civilians. This is a civil war and we got permission to enter from the civilians. I’m satisfied that we got permission to legally enter into Syria.”

The International Relations Department encourages South African passport holders to respect Syria’s requirement of a possessing a visa before entering the country.

(Edited by Zamangwane Shange)