SA pho­to­jour­nal­ist still in cap­tiv­ity in Syria

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - NOSIPHO MN­GOMA

IT HAS been more than 150 days since South African pho­to­jour­nal­ist Shi­raaz Mo­hamed was kid­napped in Syria, and in­for­ma­tion on his where­abouts is still scant.

Speak­ing to The Star’s sis­ter pa­per The Mer­cury on Thurs­day, his ex-wife Shirley Goven­der, who trav­elled to Syria in Fe­bru­ary to try to find out more about his dis­ap­pear­ance, said it had been a try­ing time, es­pe­cially with so lit­tle in­for­ma­tion avail­able.

“That has added to all the trauma of his dis­ap­pear­ance, with so many ques­tions unan­swered.”

Mo­hamed was kid­napped by gun­men along with two aid work­ers while they were trav­el­ling to Syria’s bor­der with Turkey on Jan­uary 10.

The aid work­ers were later re­leased, but Mo­hamed was re­port­edly kept to be ques­tioned about a so-called mis­un­der­stand­ing.

He had trav­elled to Syria with the hu­man­i­tar­ian or­gan­i­sa­tion Gift of the Givers.

Goven­der said she was stay­ing pos­i­tive and had mo­bilised me­dia col­leagues from around the world to try to get Mo­hamed’s name and plight pub­li­cised in the hope that it will reach him or his cap­tors.

“We need to ex­haust ev­ery pos­si­ble av­enue and fol­low up any bit of in­for­ma­tion.”

Speak­ing on her trip to Syria, Goven­der said: “We were sur­rounded by sol­diers, and ev­ery­where we went, there were peo­ple watch­ing us. It was chill­ing.

“It was scary to imag­ine Shi­raaz in cap­tiv­ity, alone… We want him to know that we are look­ing for him, we have not for­got­ten him,” she added.

Gift of the Givers founder Dr Im­tiaz Sooli­man yes­ter­day said they were not speak­ing out about Mo­hamed at the mo­ment as in­for­ma­tion was very sen­si­tive, but they were still work­ing to have him re­leased.

The Mo­hamed fam­ily thanked Gift of the Givers “for their con­tin­ued ef­forts and sup­port”.

Mo­hamed’s sis­ter Su­maya said: “This is an es­pe­cially dif­fi­cult time for us, not hav­ing our brother with us dur­ing this blessed month of Ra­madaan.

“Most evenings we break our fast in tears but al­ways with prayer, hope and faith that the Almighty will help our brother through this and re­turn him home to us safe and soon.

“We ask that ev­ery­one please con­tinue to pray for our brother, es­pe­cially dur­ing this holy month.”

Ac­cord­ing to the non-gov­ern­men­tal or­gan­i­sa­tion the Com­mit­tee to Pro­tect Jour­nal­ists, since 2011 more than 100 jour­nal­ists have been kid­napped in the war-torn Mid­dle Eastern coun­try.

Its web­site said “cases of jour­nal­ists miss­ing in con­flict zones or ar­eas un­der the con­trol of mil­i­tant groups, such as in Syria, Iraq, Libya and Ye­men, are ex­tremely dif­fi­cult to track”.

MISS­ING: Shi­raaz Mo­hamed

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