NEWS

Second South African Reportedly Killed In Syria, While Rebels Want To Swop SA Journalist For Captured Rebels

There's no confirmation from the Department of International Relations on either situation.

17/02/2017 09:23 SAST | Updated 17/02/2017 11:10 SAST
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Another South African man has reportedly been killed in Syria, according to The Star and the Cape Times, while reports emerged on Friday that rebels who snatched a Johannesburg journalist in Syria a month ago want to trade him for prisoners.

The man killed was reportedly a 25-year-old from Port Elizabeth believed to have been a friend of the Durban-born man reported on Wednesday to have been killed in Syria, reported The Star, which said that "it is understood that the Durban man is the son of a religious leader and he and his brother were fighting with the Mujahedeen, a Syrian militant group formed to fight Islamic State".

Civic activist Yusuf Abramjee informed The Star about the second death, but said he was still waiting for information on both deaths. The South African Department of International Relations and Cooperation also told The Star it had no official information on the deaths, but that it was "looking into the matter" with people in the country and would report back.

On Wednesday, Abramjee confirmed the death of the 22-year-old Durbanite to the Huffington Post South Africa. The man and his brother were reportedly involved in the fighting, having joined the Mujaheen, a group of militants fighting against Islamic State, The Star reported.

Meanwhile, there is renewed hope for Johannesburg photographer Shiraaz Mohamed, who has been missing in Syria for a month. He had been in Syria with the South African charity Gift of the Givers and was snatched outside the charity's hospital on January 10.

On Friday, Director of NGO Truth Collective South Africa Bakar al-Maharmeh told Eyewitness News (EWN) that they have proof that Mohamed is alive and that his capturers are demanding four high profile rebels in exchange for the his release. The NGO has just returned from a 12-day trip to Syria where it tried to broker Mohamed's deal and has obtained photos and videos of Mohamed, as proof of life, EWN reported. "The NGO is being supported by Deputy International Relations Minister Nomaindiya Mfeketo and the Syrian government, which has agreed to release four rebel fighters in a hostage swap.

al-Maharmeh told EWN that an intermediary, in contact with the rebels holding Mohamed, has produced proof of life and said he would return to Syria next month to work on Mohamed's release. "Shiraaz is alive, we've got a video and a picture of him from the rebel side to ensure he's alive. I never went to the rebel side, I went through the Syrian government, who are supporting this issue because of the agreed relationship with South Africa... These rebels requested four high criminal terrorist be arrested by the Syrian government; and the sent their names, that's what they want, to release Shiraz".