Saturday Star

Still no word from Shiraaz’s kidnappers

Raids to be carried out, suspects rounded up in search for journalist

- SHAUN SMILLIE

WHILE a ceasefire holds in Syria allowing the Gift of the Givers task team to search for Shiraaz Mohamed, there is concern that his abductors have yet to give a reason why they are holding him.

According to humanitari­an organisati­on, Gift of the Givers, they have heard that suspects will be rounded up, raids conducted and investigat­ions made into the whereabout­s of the missing South African photograph­er.

“Various prisons will be visited in the days ahead to ascertain if Shiraaz has been wrongfully detained. The people of Syria have come out very strongly ag ainst t he captors saying clearly ‘ not in our name’,” they said in a statement.

In a week Mohamed will have been missing a month – this as he was attempting to leave Syria into Turkey.

“The time period is very unusual, usually by now his captors would have given proof of life and their demands. In west Africa, this usually takes about a week, said Martin Ewi of the Institute of Security Studies, a kidnapping expert. Gift of the Givers, who Mohamed had entered Syria with, said they had been told that he was alive.

“But we haven’t seen the proof that he is alive,” said Ewi

Mohamed’s for mer wife Shirley Brijlal said that waiting for news was very frustratin­g. “It is such a slow process, we are not used to have things move slowly there. It makes me feel very angry and helpless.”

The ceasefire came into effect between various rebel groups in the area a week ago. Since then, Gift of the Givers said it had approached various individual­s who they hoped would provide assistance in finding Mohamed.

“In the last 48 hours, all kinds of people from all types of groups bearing a range of titles, including NGO director, medical director, security representa­tive, i nve s t i g a t i o n representa­tive, have either visited Gift of the Givers’ Al Rahma Hospital or engaged us in various locations. The message is the same: “There was no reason for anyone to take Shiraaz”, the statement read.

Initially it was thought Mohamed was detained because of a misunderst­anding which would be sorted out quickly.

Nelson Kgwete, the spokespers­on for the Department of Inter national Relations and Co-operation, said his department was working with Gift of the Givers and the Syrian authoritie­s to get Mohamed released.

 ??  ?? Photojourn­alist Shiraaz Mohamed is believed to have been kidnapped by individual­s who said they “represent all groups inside Syria” near the Gift of the Givers’ Al-Hilal Hospital.
Photojourn­alist Shiraaz Mohamed is believed to have been kidnapped by individual­s who said they “represent all groups inside Syria” near the Gift of the Givers’ Al-Hilal Hospital.

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