Kidnapped photojournalist Shiraaz Mohamed's mother appeals for her son's safe return
Durban - Family of kidnapped South African photo-journalist, Shiraaz Mohamed, is appealing for assistance in bringing him back home. In an open letter posted on Friday, Mohamed's mother, Shireen said his captures are demanding $ 700 000 in exchange for her son's freedom.
Mohamed was kidnapped in 2017.
"Shiraaz went to Syria on a week-long assignment, commissioned by Gift of the Givers. His intention was to capture the experiences and suffering of the Syrian people, hoping to garner South African and worldwide support. On Tuesday, 10 January 2017, whilst on his way back to the Turkish border, my son was kidnapped by a group of armed men," she said.
Shireen said, "We learnt of my son's disappearance on Friday, 13 January 2017, when Shaaziya informed us of the incident. She liaised with Gift of the Givers and they confirmed the kidnapping and offered their assistance to us. The path that we walked with Gift of the Givers was unfortunately not successful, and instead split our family and Shaaziya apart as a unit. Our family continued efforts with Gift of the Givers while Shaaziya continued her efforts with Government and other concerned parties, in an attempt to secure Shiraaz’s release. We then realised that we needed to work together as a family and approached our Government as a collective. This unity in effort started about 6 months ago and was strengthened by the guidance and support of one professional who is assisting us at no cost."
"In our determination to bring Shiraaz home together, we even made efforts to get the attention of our President, Cyril Ramaphosa, on Election day, 8 May, in Chiawelo when he visited the school to cast his vote. By the grace of The Almighty, I was able to briefly talk to the President and hand him a letter. He promised to give the matter his urgent attention. To date, we have not heard back from the Presidency. The people holding my son have made contact with us and we have been liaising with them since August, with the help of the professional. Over the past few months we received several proofs of life, including a letter on 3 September 2019 and a video clip on 23 September 2019. We are the closest we have ever been to bringing him home, with the grace of The Almighty," she said.
"The group have demanded that we pay $700 000.00 in exchange for my son's freedom. They have told us that this is not a ransom amount but it is their cost for my son's maintenance and upkeep during his time of captivity. We have tried all avenues possible to come up with the money. No one is willing to assist us. We as a family cannot raise this amount of money by ourselves. It is an impossible task. We have tried countless organisations, individuals and even our Government, but no one is helping us," she said.
Shireen said the family wanted Mohamed to know that they were trying their best to bring him home safely.
"We have not deserted nor forgotten about you. You are in our thoughts and prayers every moment of every day. We love you more than anything and we will never forsake you. From me, as a mother, this is a desperate call to my fellow South Africans and the world, any organization, any individual, any Government, any country, anyone who can help, I plead with you all, if you have any means to help me in any way possible, please do so. My son needs you, my family and I need you. Please make contact with us and you can be assured that any assistance will be treated in the strictest of confidence, if so desired. Time is running out. Please help me save my son's life," she said.