“I just want to grab Shiraaz and hold him.”
These were the words of Shirley Brijlal, the former wife of SA photographer Shiraaz Mohamed, who was kidnapped and held hostage in Syria for almost three years.
Gift of the Givers announced this week that they had received information that Mohamed had escaped from captivity.
Brijlal told TimesLIVE on Tuesday that they had been in contact with the department of international relations and co-operation (Dirco). She said it was a “huge” relief that Mohamed had escaped and was alive – but added that they did not have any new information.
“We’ve been in contact with Dirco and they said we need to be patient. We just need to respect protocol. We trust in the process,” said Brijlal.
“He was courageous enough to escape. We are just waiting for him to come back home.”
She said the family was anxiously waiting for an update about Mohamed’s wellbeing. “We are continuing in our prayers for him to come back. I just want to grab Shiraaz and hold him. Right now it’s almost like [his return is only] in theory. The three years of waiting is unbearable,” she said.
“We are comforted that he made an effort to leave that horrible place.”
Dirco spokesperson Lunga Ngqengelele would not comment on the specifics of the department’s involvement. “We as Dirco are seized with the matter. We are working [on] the matter. When it is necessary to provide more information, we will issue a statement,” he said.
Ngqengelele said the department’s role was to help South Africans in distress. “In delicate matters such as these, we try not to put the life of Shiraaz Mohamed in danger.”