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Korkie still alive, says foundation

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IOL pic feb10 pierre korkie file

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South African Pierre Korkie was kidnapped in Taiz, Yemen, on May 27 last year.

Johannesburg - Sources in Yemen have confirmed that kidnapped South African Pierre Korkie is still alive, the Gift of the Givers Foundation said on Thursday.

“About 10 days ago we received confirmation from more than one source that Pierre Korkie was seen alive together with a UN aid worker of Sierra Leone nationality, also captured last year,” foundation head Imtiaz Sooliman said in a statement.

“They were being moved from one region to another.”

However, he said the sources could not comment on Korkie's state of health.

Korkie and his wife Yolande were kidnapped by Al-Qaeda militants in Taiz, Yemen, in May last year. At the time Pierre was a teacher in Yemen, while his wife did relief work in hospitals.

Yolande was released on January 10 and returned to South Africa on January 13. The Gift of the Givers helped negotiate her release.

The kidnappers demanded a US3 million (about R32.5m).

The Gift of the Givers tried to make contact with Al-Qaeda through international media and circulated an interview with their office manager in Yemen, Anas al-Hamati.

Al-Hamati was forced to leave Yemen at the end of January for his own safety after Al-Qaeda accused him of stealing the ransom money.

Tribal leaders in Yemen then took over the talks with Al-Qaeda.

On February 25, tribal leaders learned that Korkie was still alive, but in bad health. Since then, no more information was available on his condition.

Sooliman on Thursday said the foundation was dependent on the goodwill of tribal leaders in the area.

“The reality is that ransom money is just unavailable. In an attempt to get international support and with the hope that Al-Qaeda will reconsider releasing Pierre but unconditionally, Yolande has released a second appeal via video to coincide with the one year anniversary of the kidnapping,” he said.

Yolande released the video on Wednesday.

“With the coming month of Ramadan, the month of mercy and forgiveness, we ask you to please release him unconditionally, as you released me,” she says in the video.

“My children and I long desperately for him, please release him, we will be so grateful. Pierre has not harmed anybody. He's an innocent man and a respected teacher.”

In the video Yolande says her husband is gravely ill and could die.

Sapa


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