Shiraaz Mohamed kidnapped over 'misunderstanding'
Mohamed is believed to have been kidnapped on Tuesday by individuals who said they “represent all groups inside Syria” near the Gift of the Givers Foundation’s Al-Hilal Hospital.
The kidnappers are said to have singled out Mohamed in the group he was travelling with to take him in for questioning regarding a “misunderstanding”. Gift of the Givers was hosting Mohamed in Syria as he documents the lives of adults and children in the war-torn country, and is currently spearheading efforts to bring the lensman home safely.
Shirley Brijlal, Mohamed’s ex-wife, who still remains close to him, said his family were trying to remain positive while trying to find out more information.
“When we first heard the news we were all devastated. But now we are all trying to make sense of all the information we are receiving. Apparently he was singled out for questioning, and we just don’t understand why,” Brijlal said.
They were counting on the foundation to bring back the man she has loved for 13 years.
“We are counting on them to bring him back safely because he was their guest. They have been very co-operative, giving us constant feedback and explaining to us some of the things we may not understand,” she said.
A statement released by the charity said one of the medical staff members at one of the foundation’s hospitals, Dr Ahmad Ghandour, was taken into questioning on Friday by the investigation department of An Nusra (now Fath Al Sham), a former al-Qaeda affiliate, to answer questions regarding the “misunderstanding” that was mentioned when Mohamed was kidnapped.
The foundation’s founder and chief executive Dr Imtiaz Sooliman detailed the events of the questioning, stating that Ghandour was asked what the “misunderstanding” was that the kidnappers had spoken of.
“They wanted to know if Shiraaz had some disagreement with Ahmad. Ahmad replied that, on the contrary, Shiraaz was invited to have meals and sleep at his home and that he had taken Shiraaz to some of the areas to take his pictures,” Sooliman said in a statement.
He added that Ghandour was to take Mohamed to Aleppo, but that trip was called off over safety concerns. He added that the doctor informed the questioners of the displeasure of the charity organisation over Mohamed’s capture.
“Ahmad conveyed Gift of the Givers’ message, which had to be passed on to everyone, that we’re extremely annoyed with this incident. Gift of the Givers have supported the Syrian people with massive humanitarian life-saving projects for four years.
“This was predominantly South African support and an insult to us that a South African was captured. This South African had come to record the hardship of the Syrian people to garner more international support,” he said.
The Department of International Relations and Co-operation is also trying to secure Mohamed’s safe return, but said it still had no information regarding his whereabouts.