Shiraaz Mohamed’s captors request $1.5m ransom

Earlier this year, NGO Gift of the Givers received proof that Mohamed who was abducted in Syria in January 2017 was still alive.

Shiraaz Mohamed. Picture:

CAPE TOWN - South African photojournalist Shiraaz Mohamed’s captors in Syria have demanded $1.5 million for his release.

The Gift of the Givers Foundation received proof in January last year that Mohamed was still alive.

The organisation said it had been in contact with Mohamed’s kidnappers this past week.

Gift of the Givers said his family didn’t have the financial means to secure his release.

“Following the proof of life video that Gift of the Givers received from Shiraaz's captors in Syria on Friday, 26 April, they called this week to commence negotiations on the way forward. The demand for Shiraaz's release is 1.5 million USD. We made it clear that this was not possible,” Gift of the Givers' founder Dr Imtiaz Sooliman said in a statement.

He added: “We stated that Shiraaz's family does not have the means, nor is Shiraaz the employee of a large corporate company that could assist with payment and the South African government will not pay. They said they giving us time to consider options.

“In a subsequent conversation we said the figure was too high. They said it was negotiable. They called again on Thursday evening, they seemed anxious and said they need to conclude this deal urgently.”

Sooliman said the abductors fear for Mohamed’s life as continuous bombing was taking place around the area where his being held captive.

He said the kidnappers indicated they are willing to reduce the ransom.

“The Russians were bombing South Idlib and North Hama very aggressively and they are afraid that Shiraaz could be killed in the bombing. We went to Shiraaz's family today to explain this new development and possible consequences. This is exactly what Shiraaz was afraid of in the video where he makes a plea for assistance to secure his release.

“Our hospital in Syria has confirmed that the bombing has increased substantially, that the medical administration in Idlib has requested Gift of the Givers Ar Rahma Hospital to be one of the facilities to be on standby to receive patients from a distance is 70km. We have received the first two patients yesterday.

“We are currently engaging with religious leaders to provide letters requesting the unconditional release of Shiraaz immediately, to prevent a tragedy. We lost Pierre Korkie on the day that his release was secured, Stephen McGown's mother passed on one month before Stephen was released, we certainly don't want to live through another such incident."