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

Johannesburg - Silence and rumours. This is all the family and negotiators for kidnapped Bloemfontein teacher Pierre Korkie have after the deadline for his R33 million ransom passed on Saturday.

Negotiators from Gift of the Givers have had no communication with the al-Qaeda kidnappers for 13 days, the foundation’s director, Imtiaz Sooliman, said yesterday.

Family spokesman Michael Venter said they had been “inundated” with rumours that Korkie had been released and speculation about his health, but cautioned people not to believe it unless it had been verified by the government.

Sooliman also warned against believing a so-called anonymous mediator in Yemen, who was quoted in AFP reports at the weekend.

The mediator was quoted as saying the kidnappers would not execute Korkie and that an extension could be arranged if the South African government was prepared to respond to the demands.

“Can he produce proof of life? Can he arrange for us to talk to Pierre? If not, we will not pay too much attention to this ‘lead’,” Sooliman said.

Last week, Yolande Korkie begged her husband’s kidnappers to release him because he needed medical treatment.

Pierre and Yolande were kidnapped in Yemen in May last year, but Yolande was unconditionally released last month.

“If Pierre is gravely ill, but still holding out, it is my opinion that they will not execute him for now,” Sooliman said.

He said this was because al-Qaeda’s leaders were concerned with the group’s public image.

The Star