Mali kidnap: wife devastated


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Photo: Steve Lawrence

Motorcycling across Africa was going to be his last epic trip. He was ready to settle down, start a family, and take over his father’s business. It was just one last adventure – another item to strike off the bucket list.

But days after arriving in Mali last week, the South African man, 37, was taken captive with two friends at gunpoint in the capital Timbuktu.

The man’s family have not heard anything from the him in the two days since reports of the attack.

His wife arrived in Gauteng on Sunday. “She’s putting on a brave face – we all are – but she’s devastated,” said the man’s distraught father.

The International Relations Department was waiting for news from Mali’s government and the South African embassy on the captives’ whereabouts.

The man’s father said on Sunday he had last spoken to his son on Thursday, the night before the kidnapping.

After years of living in England, the man was making his way across Africa to South Africa.

Travelling south from Timbuktu, he was due home in a few weeks.

He was travelling with two friends – one Dutch and the other Swedish.

Speaking on Skype on Thursday, the man told his father civil unrest in Timbuktu was “getting out of hand”, and it was time for the group to leave Mali as soon as possible.

But less than 24 hours later, the man and his two friends were reported missing, after an incident near their campsite that left another German national dead.

Associated Press reported that the travellers were at a Timbuktu restaurant when a group of gunmen burst in, taking four tourists and killing the German when he refused to climb into their truck. “They were just in the wrong place at the wrong time,” said the man’s father.

The identities of three of the kidnapped men are known to the authorities, but because of the sensitive nature of the incident, have not been revealed. No personal details on the fourth tourist have emerged.

Canadian tourist Julie-Ann Leblond said she met the South African, a Swede and a Dutch couple in Mali. They invited her to join them as they headed to Timbuktu. But she took ill and stayed behind in Bamako.

“I was never so happy to get a cold,” said Leblond, 25, from Quebec City.

Despite having ransomed dozens of tourists visiting Mali since 2003, the al-Qaeda branch in the country has not claimed responsibility for the kidnappings. Mali, which borders Algeria, established democracy in 1992, and has had to deal with cross-border banditry and terrorism that have involved numerous kidnappings.

Department of International Relations spokesman Clayson Monyela said it remained unclear who kidnapped the men and why.

The families of the Swedish and Dutch men had reportedly been contacted regarding ransoms. “But we haven’t heard a thing. We were told it could be up to three months before we’re contacted. It may be to put us under pressure, said the father.

International Relations had been working to get information on the man’s whereabouts, Monyela said. - The Star


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russell travers, wrote

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03:17pm on 28 November 2011
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Doobee - what has Apartheid got to do with Africas ethical crises today? Africa today is generally run by autocratic de-facto one party states often with links to terrorist organisations and criminal empires. Even in SA today more people die per year as a result of violent crime than died in the entire struggle for the liberation of SA from apartheid. That is the period From 1948 to 1994. There was no black apocalypse, no shooting of people over pits. That was done by the Soviets, onetime masters of the same communists and former anc and other terrorists now in parliament in this country. Of course if its the battle of Cuito Cuanavale and operations in that area where the sadf did inflict massive damage on combined Cuban and Angolan forces, killing over 4.500 enemy soldiers. That was a different matter though. They were soldiers and lost badly. We had 17 soldiers killed. Then there's that little bit of outright terrorist savagery at st James. I was there. On my life Ill tell you about greade craters in the aisle filled with blood and the splatter in the pews where unstable ak rounds had tumbled, but that was long ago... There's still no excuse to lose 20 0000 per year to murderous crime. Or do you perhaps not believe the accounts we read, or the footage that we see or the personal evidence of a place, where you can do what you want - kill, cheat,lie and steal. Yes I know, it happens everywhere. As for your argument as per the supremacy of African socio political ethics ill reserve my right to decide.

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Jess, wrote

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02:35pm on 28 November 2011
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@Russell Travers, like the saying goes touch wood I live and travel the length and breath of South Africa (female on my own) and yes I both drive and fly there and have thank the fates not experienced any...yes ANY...crime. Grow some nuts cos with all the bad PR you're doing it smacks of a shrinkage problem...or take a note from Deebee...Deebee 'you're The Man' xoxo

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@deebee, wrote

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02:14pm on 28 November 2011
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so you say you well travelled ,hope to see on Aircrash Investigation .Oh and wipe your mouth because you talking @@ap

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Lance Quiding, wrote

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02:09pm on 28 November 2011
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Thoughts and prayers are with you! International incidents are tough and I just hope you are getting the support you deserve.

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Harold, wrote

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01:35pm on 28 November 2011
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@Deebee - you gotta be kidding me!!!!there is no question that this is a bad world in general, but the callousness and utter depravity in Africa is soemthing very unique to thsi part of the world. I would rather be walking around taking my chances with the feral youths in Bristol than tarvelling around parts of Africa, where I am likely to get dismemebered and butchered limb by limb. I know we are entering silly season, but you might want to focus a little bit.

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WOW, wrote

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01:35pm on 28 November 2011
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We can only pray for their safe return. @Jess, we all are entitled to our own opinions with regards to our country and continent - those are Cheryl's opinions, slamming her like that I feel is rather harsh and yes if you ask me I am in no way proud of S.A or Africa I am daily reminded why the pride in my country has diminished. Now for you to belittle me would be wrong - it is my opinion and I am entitled to it - remember everyone's value differ, what she wants and what you want out of a country differ, does that make her wrong and you right - I do not think so so, before running away with someone's comment and trying to degrade them afford them the opportunity to voice their own opinions remember this is a democratic country after all.

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tamara, wrote

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01:27pm on 28 November 2011
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you tell them deebee!!

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tamara, wrote

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01:27pm on 28 November 2011
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you tell them deebee!!

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Deebee, wrote

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12:35pm on 28 November 2011
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@ Russell Travers - I can only assume that either you've got a wicked sense of humour and I've completely failed to grasp it, or you have absolutely no clue what you're talking about. Closest I've been to being mugged? London. Closest to a terror attack? Paris. Closest to an ongoing, festering ethnic conflict? Spain (I haven't been to Ireland, Bosnia, Serbia, Croatia, Chechnya, Ossetia, Norway, Armenia or Georgia, so I can't comment on the other European countries soaked in violence, depravity and inhumanity). I haven't been to China, North Korea, Cuba or Saudi Arabia, so unless I cast my mind back to Apartheid era South Africa, I don't have a grasp of state abuse on that scale. I also, unlike British, American, Australian, Canadian and French citizens, have to cast my mind back to Apartheid South Africa to remember when my country invaded another for good reason, other than oil or a Texan vendetta. I haven't watched feral youths wrecking cities for simple pleasure or for a i-phone or flat screen TV, like the residents of London, Liverpool and Bristol recently did. But thanks for your analysis of Africa, I'm sure we're all much the wiser for it. If not about Africa, then certainly about you.

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Deebee, wrote

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12:00pm on 28 November 2011
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@Jess - Hallelujah sister! Every time someone comes up with the lazy stereotyping of 'this is Africa' I really infuriated. I travel across this continent for a living and it has so much more to offer than the lazy, racist stereotypes offered by South Africans. Which is why we're losing business opportunities to everyone from the Chinese to the Turks, Spanish and Brazilians - they understand this continent so much better than our 'Gateway to Africa' mentality. Oh, the irony.

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russell travers, wrote

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11:46am on 28 November 2011
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This is what I mean when I tell people that South Africa in general and Africa in particular is a nightmare. Violence, corruption, savagery, animism and disease. By all means visit Africa - just don't leave the western Cape. Bring a knife proof shirt, get a pepparball gun on arrival. Stitch cash into the seams of your clothing. Have all your consular contacts tatooed onto your body. Have a rape survivor kit with you (male and female). Be prepared for serious food poisoning. Train yourself not to be gun or blood-shy. Tracking devices can be surgically inserted into your body. Learn to grovel and mutter reflexivly 'Africa is great! The countries of kings. I hate the west and I'm sorry about colonialism.' Have a nice trip.

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Anonymous, wrote

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11:29am on 28 November 2011
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@Jess: I agree with you. No matter whether this is Africa or not, this is just not on. Our sincerest support for the families affected. We all pray to the One for whom nothing is impossible.

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JB, wrote

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10:51am on 28 November 2011
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In an other article it stated that he has a British passport - they need to pull this card as the SA don't seem to help its people

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Precious, wrote

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10:30am on 28 November 2011
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So very sorry for these people. What a lousy world!!!!

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Jess, wrote

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10:24am on 28 November 2011
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@Cheryl why don't you sit on the sharp end of a pine apple or grow some brains?!!! why do people always say 'this is Africa' when we are all Africans? The last time I checked I am not a kidnapper or corrupt in any form. I am proud of my country and continent warts and all. Furthermore I am living the change I want to see! And guess what? It is the pandering of hand-outs for resources from first world or developing countries that forms a breeding ground for corruption amongst other things! Get a life and comment once your grey matter has increased!

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Max, wrote

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10:00am on 28 November 2011
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I feel for these people and their families. But you are really taking your lives into your hands when you make these trips around these parts of Africa. I'm all for adventure, but not this.....

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Kirsten, wrote

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09:52am on 28 November 2011
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Thoughts and prayers are with the affected families... however, this is Africa, Mali nonetheless. Once this is resolved, I concur with Richard. The capital of Mali is Bamako

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Anonymous, wrote

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09:42am on 28 November 2011
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Thoughts and prayers are with family and friends, as well as the kidnapped. May God be with you and get you home safely.

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Jezza, wrote

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09:29am on 28 November 2011
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I hope this turns out well and I really hope the press don't do their usual scum act of vying to hit the headlines first by releasing the identity of the man in the quest for a quick buck. I wouldn't put it past them though.

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Richard, wrote

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09:03am on 28 November 2011
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I'm sorry, am I the only one who feels like we should go and carpet bomb these #$%34ers? Somalia too! Just wipe these pirates and kidnappers out, they are just parasites!

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