South African Yolande Korkie, former hostage and wife of Pierre Korkie, listens to Michel Venter, the family's spokesperson, during a press conference held in Johannesburg on January 16, 2014
South African Yolande Korkie, former hostage and wife of Pierre Korkie, listens to Michel Venter, the family's spokesperson, during a press conference held in Johannesburg on January 16, 2014 © Marco Longari - AFP/File
South African Yolande Korkie, former hostage and wife of Pierre Korkie, listens to Michel Venter, the family's spokesperson, during a press conference held in Johannesburg on January 16, 2014
AFP
Last updated: January 22, 2014

Al-Qaeda demands cash for kidnapped South African

A non-governmental group attempting to secure the release of an ailing South African man kidnapped in Yemen by Al-Qaeda said Wednesday it had received a fresh ransom demand.

Disaster relief organisation Gift of the Givers said it had "received a text message from Al-Qaeda" at around 1400 GMT asking why the South African government had not paid the ransom for Pierre Korkie.

The ransom demand is for $3.0 million (2.2 million euros).

When told that South Africa does not "negotiate with kidnappers" or pay ransoms, "they sent us a picture of a bomb belt," said NGO president Imtiaz Sooliman.

Korkie, a 56-year-old English teacher who is suffering from hernia, was abducted along with his wife last May in the Yemeni city of Taiz by members of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

Korkie's wife Yolande was freed on January 10 and has since returned to South Africa to fight for his release.

The couple had lived and worked in Yemen for four years.

A initial deadline of January 17 had been set for the ransom to be paid, but that was later extended by three weeks.

South African deputy foreign minister Ebrahim Ebrahim recently travelled to Yemen and made a television appeal for Korkie's release.

"Pierre Korkie is gravely ill and desperately needs medical attention," he said in the address, adding that the Korkies were a poor family.

"His life is in danger. Islam enjoins us to show mercy and forbids us from harming the sick, even in war. I beg those who are holding him to release him without delay."

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