Captured photojournalist Shiraaz Mohamed is safe in Turkey and through diplomatic channels, will return to South Africa soon. That was the word from Dr Imtiaz Sooliman, the founder of the Gift of the Givers Foundation, speaking to VOC Breakfast Beat, following the breakthrough that the South African is now free after nearly three years in captivity. Its believed Shiraaz Mohamed has escaped his captors in Syria, however, details as to what happened remain unclear. Mohamed had been captivity by an unknown group in the war-torn country since January 2017.
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The call that notified Gift of the Givers of Mohamed’s escape came on Saturday afternoon and photographic evidence that the individual who escaped and needed assistance was, in fact, Mohamed, was then provided to the foundation by those escorting him to Turkey.
“They called to say they have Shiraaz Mohamed with them and that they would like to know what to do next…We asked how they got hold of him and they gave a whole history about how he escaped, where he walked, where he went, the areas he went through, how he went through alleys and not main roads…there was a whole explanation about that. Eventually they said ‘Look, when we found him we saw the condition he was in, but he’s fine’,” said Gift of the Givers founder, Dr Imtiaz Sooliman.
Now that Mohamed is safe in Turkey, Dr Sooliman says that DIRCO needs to take control of the situation and arrange Mohamed’s return. Dr Sooliman has indicated, however, that he does not think the process of getting Mohamed back into South Africa will be a lengthy or difficult one.
According to previous reports by VOC, Mohamed was taken hostage on 10 January 2017 in Darkoush, Syria. Gift of the Givers previously explained that Mohamed had gone into Syrian territory on his own accord as a photojournalist to capture the suffering of the Syrian people.
Earlier this year, Gift of the Givers distanced itself from Mohamed’s situation and hostage negotiation due to operational reasons surrounding disagreements and disorganisation relating to how the interested parties seeking Mohamed’s safe return should conduct the hostage negotiation process. Gift of the Givers has explained that in the interest of Mohamed’s safety they withdrew, as they did not want too many conflicting and contradictory voices destabilising an already volatile situation.
SEE BELOW: Images of Mohamed after escaping captivity
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