NEWS

Gift Of The Givers, Dirco Can't Confirm Reports On Missing SA Journalist

Charity, government say they have no information on missing journalist Shiraaz Mohamed.

17/02/2017 14:29 SAST | Updated 20/02/2017 11:54 SAST
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Missing Johannesburg journalist Shiraaz Mohamed

The Gift of the Givers and the Department of International Relations (Dirco) have distanced themselves from reports that kidnapped South African journalist, Shiraaz Mohamed, was alive and that plans were underway to have him brought home soon.

Responding to Eyewitness News and Jacaranda FM reports, Gift of the Givers founder Dr Imtiaz Sooliman told News24 he had no information on the condition or return of Mohamed.

"I have no idea where they got that information from," said Sooliman, referring News24 to Dirco for comment.

Mohamed was captured after he and two Gift of the Givers members were stopped on their way to the Turkish border to exit Syria in January. The two Gift of the Givers members were then released.

When News24 contacted the department on Friday, its spokesperson Nelson Ngwete was unable to confirm that an NGO called Truth Collective South Africa had been working together with Deputy International Relations Minister, Nomaindiya Mfeketo, and the Syrian government, to make an agreement to release four rebel fighters in a hostage swap with Mohamed.

Ngwete said: "I don't know anything about that story so I cannot comment on what has been written."

He added he did not have any information about Mohamed and if the deputy minister did intervene, he had not been briefed on the matter.

Syria trip

Cape Town based Truth Collective South Africa's Bakar al Maharmeh told Jacaranda FM that he went to Syria for 12 days in an effort to facilitate Mohamed's release.

He reportedly said that he made contact with a mediator between the rebel groups and the Syrian government and it was established that Mohamed was alive and being held by Jabhat al-Nusra in ldib.

Al Maharmeh further reportedly said that the South African and Syrian governments, as well as the South African ambassador, were busy facilitating Mohamed's release.

It was established that Jabhat al-Nusra was offering to trade Mohamed for the release of four of their members held by the Syrian government, according to the report.

Despite the crimes committed by these four men, the Syrian government has reportedly agreed to the negotiations in order to maintain the good relationship between Syria and South Africa.

He said he believed that Mohamed would be released soon.

News24