SA photojournalist still in captivity in Syria
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