Photojournalist Shiraaz Mohamed is believed to have been kidnapped by individuals who said they 'represent all groups inside Syria'.
Johannesburg - “We need him home. The past year has been a nightmare.”

These are the words of Shirley Brijlal, the ex-wife of photojournalist Shiraaz Mohamed, who was kidnapped in Syria.

Today is the first anniversary of Mohamed’s kidnapping at the Gift of the Givers hospital in Darkoush, in northern Syria, near the Turkish border.

Mohamed was on his way to Turkey with aid organisation Gift of the Givers when he was abducted. The two drivers who were with him were released and he was kept by the kidnappers for “questioning”.

This week, his family got a glimmer of hope when Gift of the Givers said it received proof of life from his kidnappers.

On Tuesday, his sister Sumaya said they were keeping their faith in God that Mohamed would be rescued soon.

Read: Missing photojournalist Shiraaz Mohamed is alive, says family

“We are very happy with the news, it brings added hope, especially during my mother’s illness. We ask that everyone continue to pray for our brother’s safe and swift return,” she said.

Sumaya said her mother's health took a bad turn at the end of last year because of Mohamed’s disappearance.

Yesterday, Gift of the Givers' Dr Imtiaz Sooliman said that on the day after Christmas, the organisation received a message from an anonymous person who claimed to have access to Mohamed.

Sooliman said while they were hopeful of the news, they were sceptical and sent 10 questions from the Mohamed family in an effort to verify that it was really Shiraaz.

On Monday, the organisation received a message saying that Mohamed was sending “salaams” to his mother and family.

“Last night was the turning point as Shiraaz’s family confirmed that all 10 questions were correctly answered and it could only be from Shiraaz. The family were ecstatic,” Gift of the Givers said.

Brijlal said she always believed that Mohamed was alive. “I have never doubted that he is alive. I am grateful that now there is movement,” she said.

Last year, Brijlal went to Turkey to try to locate Mohamed.

“It was very traumatic, but also comforting, because we had always planned to go to Turkey together. I went on the trip because I needed to know what happened," she said.

“Even though I came back not knowing where he was, I got a lot of hope. I learnt about the place and the nature of suffering of Syrian people. There is so much pain, but we have faith in our Creator.”

She added that the latest news from Gift of the Givers made her hopeful.

“All we can do is hope it is true. We need him to return home safely,” Brijlal said.

The Star