22 January 2014
International Relations and Cooperation Deputy Minister Ebrahim Ebrahim, who flew out to Yemen on Saturday to negotiate for the release of South African hostage Pierre Korkie, is back in the country, his department said on Wednesday.
While in Yemen, Ebrahim made a televised appeal for Korkie’s kidnappers to free him.
“South Africa is a country of peace, friendship and goodwill, a country that supports the struggles of people everywhere for dignity and justice, from Palestine on one side of the world to Myanmar on the other,” Ebrahim said in his appeal.
Korkie and his wife Yolande, who had been living in Yemen for four years, were captured in May last year in the Yemeni city of Taiz.
Yolande was released last week without any ransom being paid, but the kidnappers, believed to be Al-Qaeda militants, have demanded R32-million for the release of the 53-year-old Pierre. They have threatened to execute Korkie if the money is not paid.
Ebrahim thanked the kidnappers for the mercy they had shown to Yolande and pleaded with them “to save the life of Pierre, an innocent South African teacher who came to Yemen to contribute to uplifting your wonderful land.
“His life is in danger. Islam enjoins us to show mercy and forbids us from harming the sick, even in war. I beg those who are holding him to release him without delay,” he said.
“South Africa is a developing country and the Korkies are not a rich family. I appeal to you to cooperate with all initiatives so that Pierre Korkie can come home for the treatment he needs to save his life and be reunited with his family.”
Arrangements were made for a written version of the appeal signed by the deputy minister to be sent directly to the kidnappers.