SA lens­man in Syria es­capes

The Citizen (KZN) - - News - Chi­som Jen­nif­fer Okoye

While there were no up­dates late yes­ter­day af­ter re­ports emerged that South African pho­to­jour­nal­ist Shi­raaz Mo­hamed had es­caped cap­tiv­ity in Syria, a fam­ily rep­re­sen­ta­tive said their ne­go­ti­a­tion team was work­ing on en­sur­ing his safe re­turn.

A state­ment re­leased by South African non-gov­ern­men­tal or­gan­i­sa­tion Gift of the Givers ear­lier re­vealed that the pho­to­jour­nal­ist had es­caped from cap­tiv­ity. The state­ment read: “The de­tails are sketchy but we were told Mo­hamed ‘es­caped’ from cap­tiv­ity was as­sisted by ‘friendly’ peo­ple, who were very aware of his case, given the huge pub­lic­ity Gift of the Givers ini­ti­ated world­wide around Mo­hamed’s cap­ture.”

The Mo­hamed fam­ily re­fused to pub­licly re­spond to the in­for­ma­tion given to them by the or­gan­i­sa­tion “con­sid­er­ing the sen­si­tive na­ture of his cir­cum­stances”, but a rep­re­sen­ta­tive con­firmed that “he’s in good hands”.

Fam­ily mem­ber Shaaziya Bri­jlal said: “We got a call from Shi­raaz at 1pm on Satur­day and he promised when he is safe he would call us. We are still wait­ing for that. How­ever, we have con­firmed he did get help at the Turk­ish bor­der and we know he is in good hands.”

She added that they had a ne­go­ti­at­ing team in­volved in the mat­ter to en­sure his safe pas­sage back into the coun­try and that the rea­son there was no word from the gov­ern­ment might be be­cause the in­for­ma­tion had been re­vealed over the week­end and pub­lic hol­i­day.

Mo­hamed was re­port­edly taken hostage in Darkush, Syria on Jan­uary 10, 2017 af­ter trav­el­ling to the wartorn coun­try to cap­ture the plight of the Syr­ian peo­ple.

Gift of the Givers’ Im­tiaz Sooli­man con­firmed that Mo­hamed was with the Turk­ish gov­ern­ment and they were wait­ing for the two gov­ern­ments to en­gage on his re­turn.

“We have in­formed Shi­raaz’s fam­ily, Min­is­ter Naledi Pan­dor and Con­sular Ser­vices at the de­part­ment of in­ter­na­tional re­la­tions and co­op­er­a­tion.

“All have ac­knowl­edged our mes­sages. We now wait for the South African gov­ern­ment to make con­tact with Turk­ish In­tel­li­gence to bring Shi­raaz home.”

De­part­ment of in­ter­na­tional re­la­tions spokesper­son Lunga Ngqen­gelele said the de­part­ment was still in the process of ver­i­fy­ing the in­for­ma­tion given to them by the Gift of the Givers.

He did get help at the Turk­ish bor­der and we know he is in good hands.

Shaaziya Bri­jlal

Fam­ily mem­ber of Shi­raaz Mo­hamed

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