South Africa, World

GroundUp: Vigil for kidnapped photographer urges his safe return

GroundUp: Vigil for kidnapped photographer urges his safe return

A Gift of the Givers refugee camp in Syria has been renamed after gifted South African photographer Shiraaz Mohamed, who was kidnapped on Tuesday last week by armed gunmen. By Ihsaan Haffejee for GROUNDUP.

First published by GroundUp

Family, friends, community members and media colleagues of kidnapped South African photojournalist Shiraaz Mohamed gathered at the Lenasia South Civic Centre on Wednesday night to hold a prayer vigil in which they called for the safe return of the lensman.

At the multifaith prayer service, community leaders spoke of the easy-going, warm-hearted and generous nature of Mohamed who was taken by armed men last Tuesday as he was trying to make his way back into Turkey from Syria. The kidnappers indicated that he would be released after two days, after a “misunderstanding” was cleared up, but he has not been seen or heard of since the incident.

Mohamed was in Syria to document work for the NGO Gift of The Givers and to highlight the plight of refugees and civilians displaced by the ongoing conflict in that country. Since his disappearance Syrians in Idlib province have taken to the streets to demonstrate against his capture and to demand his release.

Dennis Ferrell, the head of the Associated Press photo service in Africa and a close friend of Mohamed, warmly described his love for the still image and the manner in which he was always asking for advice on how to improve his work.

Mohamed runs a community newspaper in Ennerdale and Roshnee and was always looking to highlight social issues affecting these communities.

Having taught himself photography, Mohamed has since travelled to Gaza to document the effects of the Israeli blockade, to Madagascar to highlight climate change and child marriage, to Malawi during the floods in that country and to Nepal after the massive earthquake there. He has also covered a wide variety of local stories. He has worked for international wire services as well as the United Nations.

The desperate plight of the Syrian people was an issue that was affecting him deeply and he made the journey in the hope that his images could raise awareness and lead to some positive change.

A family statement released by Mohamed’s ex-wife and friend Shirley Brijlal earlier in the day noted: “It is all becoming too overwhelming for myself and Shiraaz’s family … We are paralysed with worry and concern for Shiraaz.”

Photo: Shiraaz Mohamed. Photo taken from his Facebook profile

South Africans were urged to use the hashtag #releaseshiraazmohamed on social media to advocate for his safe return home to his family.

To create awareness of Mohamed’s plight, a Gift of the Givers-run refugee camp in Idlib province in Syria has been renamed after him. DM

Main photo: Friends from the Ennerdale community where Shiraaz Mohamed runs a local newspaper attended a vigil for the captured photojournalist Shiraaz Mohamed. Picture: Ihsaan Haffejee


Please peer review 3 community comments before your comment can be posted


This article is free to read.

Sign up for free or sign in to continue reading.

Unlike our competitors, we don’t force you to pay to read the news but we do need your email address to make your experience better.

Nearly there! Create a password to finish signing up with us:

Please enter your password or get a sign in link if you’ve forgotten

Open Sesame! Thanks for signing up.

We would like our readers to start paying for Daily Maverick...

…but we are not going to force you to. Over 10 million users come to us each month for the news. We have not put it behind a paywall because the truth should not be a luxury.

Instead we ask our readers who can afford to contribute, even a small amount each month, to do so.

If you appreciate it and want to see us keep going then please consider contributing whatever you can.

Support Daily Maverick→
Payment options

Daily Maverick Elections Toolbox

Feeling powerless in politics?

Equip yourself with the tools you need for an informed decision this election. Get the Elections Toolbox with shareable party manifesto guide.