Johannesburg - Yemeni kidnappers holding Bloemfontein teacher Pierre Korkie have sent a picture of a bomb belt, after they renewed contact with their negotiators.
“They spoke a few more words after which they sent us a picture of a bomb belt. They didn’t threaten us in words, nor did they threaten Pierre.
“They didn’t discuss negotiations around the ransom regarding the efforts by the Korkie family nor did they mention anything about the deadline or Pierre’s health,” head of The Gift of the Givers Foundation Imtiaz Sooliman said in a text message.
He is working to negotiate Korkie’s release.
Gift of the Givers received the message on Wednesday.
This communication with the kidnappers came after they had sent a text message, wanting to know from the South African government where the $3 million ransom was.
“According to their understanding, they quote Yemeni media, the South African government was coming to negotiate with them but note that no one approached them,” Sooliman said.
He added that the foundation replied that the South African government, as well as all other governments, did not negotiate with kidnappers and did not pay ransoms.
The head of Gift of the Givers said he had instructed their negotiator Anas al Hamati to stay in Sana’a for the time being, but to not engage with the kidnappers in face-to-face talks for now.
Earlier on Wednesday, deputy minister of International Relations Ebrahim Ebrahim made an appeal on Yemeni television for Korkie’s release.
“Pierre Korkie is gravely ill and desperately needs medical attention. His life is in danger. Islam enjoins us to show mercy and forbids us from harming the sick, even in war. I beg those who are holding him to release him without delay,” Ebrahim said.
“South Africa is a developing country and the Korkies are not a rich family. I appeal to you to co-operate with all initiatives so that Pierre Korkie can come home for the treatment he needs to save his life and be reunited with his family.”
Korkie and his wife Yolande were kidnapped in the city of Taiz in Yemen last May.
She was released this month after extensive negotiations.
Initially, the kidnappers, who are said to be affiliated to al-Qaeda, said they would execute Korkie in eight days if they did not get their ransom.
Last week, Gift of the Givers secured a 21-day reprieve for Korkie.
Bloemfontein business people have been trying to raise the money, but are still short of the R32.5m equivalent demanded.
Gift of the Givers has been trying to get the ransom lowered.
On Tuesday, the Muslim Judicial Council also voiced its condemnation of the kidnapping.
“As the Muslim leadership in South Africa, we are extremely concerned about the welfare of Mr Pierre Korkie.
“The MJC Presidency, its executive council, senior council and general assembly earnestly appeal to the captors of Mr Korkie to release him, as he is an unfortunate victim of prevailing circumstances in Yemen,” it said in a statement.