NEWSFLASH

South African journalist Shiraaz Mohamed, kidnapped in January 2017, is shown alive in new video

By Jonah Dylan 29 April 2019

A woman is reflected next to a poster outside a community hall hosting a night vigil for kidnapped photojournalist Shiraaz Mohamed, on January 18, 2017 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Community members, friends, family and colleagues of photojournalist Shiraaz Mohamed held a night vigil at the Lenasia South Civic Centre. Mohamed was abducted in Syria on 10 January while working with the aid mission Gift of the Givers. (Photo by Gallo Images / Dino Lloyd)

A video sent to the NGO Gift of the Givers shows South African journalist Shiraaz Mohamed, abducted in Syria in early 2017, to be alive. In the video, dated 13 April, Mohamed said he fears for his life and begs for help from a number of people and organisations.

A new video shows abducted South African journalist Shiraaz Mohamed is alive, over two years after he was kidnapped in Syria.

In the video, sent to the NGO Gift of the Givers, Mohamed asks the international community for help securing his release while a man stands behind him, appearing to hold an assault rifle.

Dr Imtiaz Sooliman, my South African President, my family, my friends, the international community, anyone that can help, I need your help in securing my freedom please,” Mohamed says.

Sooliman — the founder of Gift of the Givers — said in a statement on Sunday that the group has been attempting to trace Mohamed’s whereabouts since he was abducted.

The proof of life video, made on 13 April 2019, arrived by WhatsApp at 10pm on 26 April. Shiraaz’s family was very emotional, ecstatic, full of hope and grateful to the Almighty. They knew for certain that Shiraaz was alive,” the statement reads.

Mohamed was kidnapped near the Gift of the Givers Ar Rahma Hospital in Darkoush, Syria in January 2017. According to the release, he’s a photojournalist who was documenting communities in Syria. He was accused of being a foreign spy.

According to a statement released at the time of his abduction, by the Committee to Protect Journalists, Mohamed had previously contributed to The Associated Press and the European Pressphoto Agency, but was not on assignment for either agency at the time.

In the video, Mohamed says he fears for his life and that Russian airstrikes are moving closer and closer to his location.

In an interview with SABC, Sooliman said the group holding Mohamed originally demanded $300,000 in exchange for the video, but after that request was denied, Gift of the Givers received the video. He said he expects the group holding Mohamed to demand ransom sometime soon, and added that he is still working on “other means” to secure Mohamed’s release.

It’s always about money”, he told SABC. “No matter what they tell you about religion, and good natured-ers and nobilists, it’s all lies. It’s only about money. It’s a business.”

The Department of International Relations and Co-operation said in a statement that it was aware of the video but would not give any further information. Dirco has continued to be in contact with Mohamed’s family, the statement said.

Gift of the Givers is an NGO that provides disaster relief in countries around the world. Sooliman said the group knows which group kidnapped Mohamed, but is not releasing that information at this time.

A number of journalists have been kidnapped in Syria since the start of the Syrian Civil War. In November 2012, American journalist James Foley and British journalist John Cantlie were abducted by Isis fighters. Foley was killed in 2014 and was the first American citizen to be killed by Isis.

In February, the British government said it believed Cantlie was still alive.

The war in Syria continues to rage on, even as Isis strongholds have been largely defeated. The war started after an Arab Spring uprising against President Bashar al-Assad in 2011, and has continued ever since. In March 2019, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said it had documented the deaths of 371,222 people on Syrian territory since the start of the civil war. DM

Gallery

Want to watch Richard Poplak’s audition for SA’s Got Talent?

Who doesn’t? Alas, it was removed by the host site for prolific swearing*... Now that we’ve got your attention, we thought we’d take the opportunity to talk to you about the small matter of book burning and freedom of speech.

Since its release, Pieter-Louis Myburgh’s book Gangster State, has sparked numerous fascist-like behavior from certain members of the public (and the State). There have been planned book burnings, disrupted launches and Ace Magashule has openly called him a liar. And just to say thanks, a R10m defamation suit has been lodged against the author.

Pieter-Louis Myburgh is our latest Scorpio Investigative journalist recruit and we’re not going to let him and his crucial book be silenced. When the Cape Town launch was postponed, Maverick Insider stepped in and relocated it to a secure location so that Pieter-Louis’ revelations could be heard by the public. If we’ve learnt one thing over the past ten years it is this: when anyone tries to infringe on our constitutional rights, we have to fight back. Every day, our journalists are uncovering more details and evidence of State Capture and its various reincarnations. The rot is deep and the threats, like this recent one to freedom of speech, are real. You can support the cause by becoming an Insider and help free the speech that can make a difference.

*No video of Richard Poplak auditioning for SA’s Got Talent actually exists. Unless it does and we don’t know about it please send it through.


Comments - share your knowledge and experience

Please note you must be a Maverick Insider to comment. Sign up here or if you are already an Insider.

Presidential Inauguration

‘The challenges we face are real, but they are not insurmountable’

By Cyril Ramaphosa

BUILD-A-GOVERNMENT

How Cyril Ramaphosa is reshaping his Cabinet

Ferial Haffajee 24 MAY

Britain's Scotland Yard is built atop the site of an unsolved crime scene.