A woman priest prays next to Pierre Korkie's picture during a prayer service held at the Christ Church in Mayfair yesterday. Picture:Paballo Thekiso

Johannesburg - Today is deadline day.

Yolande Korkie, her children and extended family are anxious. Today they will find out whether Pierre Korkie, their father and husband, is alive or whether al-Qaeda will follow through on their threat to kill the Bloemfontein teacher, whom they have been holding hostage in Yemen since May.

“It has been a crazy, crazy day. We are on a knife-edge. We hope we will know more tomorrow. We can talk tomorrow. But for now, we don’t really have anything to say,” said a family spokesperson.

On Friday night religious leaders from different faiths in South Africa gathered at the Christ Church in Mayfair to pray for Korkie’s release.

The church in Joburg was packed to capacity as South Africans of all religions prayed. A handful of tourists who had heard about Korkie’s kidnapping also joined the inter-faith prayer service.

Korkie’s pictures adorned the walls of the church, while white candles were lit and ribbons were handed out.

Before the prayers began, the church showed the footage of his wife Yolande’s desperate plea, which was sent to al-Qaeda, to release her husband, on a big screen.

“Pierre is an innocent and honest person who served the poor people through his teaching,” Yolande, sitting between her two teenage children, said.


“I wish to make it clear that the SA government did not pay any ransom money and Anas (al-Hamati) from Gift of the Givers did not receive any money.


“If he had received money our South African government would not have tolerated it, and we as a family regard Anas as a trustworthy and honest person.”

“My husband is seriously ill and will not survive captivity.”


Yolande and her two children did not attend the inter-faith prayer meeting yesterday, however she sent a personal message to those who attended the service.

The message read: “Pray for Pierre’s release, for his health and for his mental frame of mind.

“Most of all pray for the mercy of al-Qaeda, so they see the light and release Pierre.”


Leaders from relief organisation, Gift of the Givers, say although they haven’t heard from the kidnappers in nearly two weeks, they believe that the group will make contact soon.

They said the captors will either contact them to reveal where Korkie will be released or to say where his body has been left after being killed.

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Saturday Star