Family renews pleas for release of S.African hostage in Yemen
A year after Al-Qaeda militants took a South African teacher hostage in Yemen, his wife made an emotional plea Wednesday for his release, after numerous mediation efforts have failed.
Pierre Korkie was taken captive with his wife on May 27 last year and his abductors are demanding a $3 million (2.2 million euros) ransom for his return.
“A year has passed and my husband, Pierre, is still in captivity. He is gravely ill and could die from complications of his condition,” said Yolande Korkie in a video posted to YouTube.
Pierre Korkie is now said to be completely deaf.
The couple from the central city of Bloemfontein had worked as teachers in Yemen for four years when they were abducted in the city of Taiz by members of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.
Yolande was released in January following mediation by South African charity Gift of the Givers.
But efforts to arrange Pierre’s freedom broke down after the group accused the negotiator of stealing the ransom money.
The group has not followed through on threats to kill him despite several missed deadlines to pay the sum.
“With the coming month of Ramadan, the month of mercy and forgiveness, we ask you to please have mercy on Pierre and release him unconditionally as you released me,” said Yolande.
“The task looks impossible until it is done,” she added, using a quote by global peace icon and national hero Nelson Mandela, who died in December.
Hundreds of people have been abducted in Yemen in the past 15 years, nearly all of them by disgruntled tribesmen who freed their hostages unharmed after short periods of captivity.
The hostages are used as bargaining chips in disputes with the central government.