Shiraaz is alive, says Givers boss
SHIRAAZ Mohamed, the Joburg-based freelance photojournalist who went missing in Syria two weeks ago, is alive, according to a statement issued by the Gift of the Givers Foundation yesterday.
Mohamed, who was a visitor of the aid group, was abducted outside one of the charity’s hospitals.
Dr Imtiaz Sooliman, the aid group’s chief executive, said they had managed, through the contacts of “influential” people in the region, to find out that Mohamed was alive, even though they did not have proof of life.
According to Sooliman, a member of that team, Anas al-Hamati from Yemen, will be the team’s hostage negotiator.
“Having previous experience, being an Arab (in reference to al-Hamati) and understanding the culture and language is an integral part of that team,” he said.
The past three days had been particularly fortuitous for the team, with their having uncovered this information. There had, however, been challenges, Sooliman said.
“Our limitation to make more progress has been airstrikes and internal discord between certain groups,” he added.
Sooliman said they now knew which group was holding Mohamed and where he was being held – even though there were still some discrepancies in the intelligence received.
They were hoping to receive more information over the next 48 hours.
Sooliman said the organisation had a concrete plan that would be used as leverage if the need arose, once they were able to verify this information.
Shirley Brijlal, Mohamed’s ex-wife, who remains a friend to the family, said they all were grateful there was new information on the journalist’s whereabouts.
“Hearing this has been like getting the answer to our prayers. To know he’s alive and he’s there is a relief. We are very grateful to the media and South Africans for the attention Shiraaz’s disappearance has been getting.
“But we will all be happy when he finally comes home,” she said.
HOPE: Shiraaz Mohamed is being held hostage in Syria.