Freed hostage flies back to SA

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IOL news jan12 Pierre Korkie Supplied Pierre Korkie

Johannesburg - Yolande Korkie, the South African hostage released by al-Qaeda kidnappers in Yemen on Friday after nearly eight months in captivity, was due to arrive back in the country on Monday night.

Meanwhile in Yemen, Anas al-Hamati, the local representative of South Africa’s Gift of the Givers charity, was intensifying his efforts to secure the release of her teacher husband Pierre Korkie, whom the kidnappers have threatened to kill if they don’t get a $3 million (R32.4m) ransom by Saturday.

Imtiaz Sooliman, the founder of Gift of the Givers which has been orchestrating the negotiations for the release of the couple, said on Monday that al-Hamati, in the Yemeni capital Sana’a, had remained in constant contact with the kidnappers.

“He’s flying out late tonight to meet them face-to-face on Tuesday.

“He is taking copies of Pierre and Yolande’s South African passports to show they are not American and so they can’t ask for a ransom in US dollars because they are South African.

“The aim is to reduce the ransom and extend the deadline by a month.”

Sooliman had said last week during the negotiations before the kidnappers agreed to release Yolande for free, that the kidnappers believed that the Korkies were Americans and so they could afford a higher ransom.

Yolande Korkie flew out of Sana’a on Sunday evening and was due to catch a connecting flight in Dubai just after midnight.

But the Dubai flight was delayed by several hours and so she would only arrive at Johannesburg’s OR Tambo International Airport on Monday evening, said Nelson Kgwete, a spokesman for the Department of International Relations and Co-operation.

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