Slain South African teacher Pierre Korkie was laid to rest in his hometown of Bloemfontein on Friday, in an emotional memorial and funeral led by family, friends and former colleagues. Korkie was killed in a failed rescue attempt last Saturday morning, after being held captive by Al Qaeda members for over 18 months. Pierre and his wife Yolande were kidnapped in the city of Taiz in May 2013, and his death brings closure to months of uncertainty surrounding his whereabouts and condition.
Shortly after the funeral, the family’s spokesperson Daan Notier told VOC News it was a heart-warming and fitting goodbye for the brave teacher. The burial will be exclusive to the family.
“It was an exceptionally sensitive gathering with a lot of praise for Pierre and many people attended,” said Notier.
“Yolande expressed her love to him being an excellent husband and father – they finally got to say farewell.”
The casket was brought in by pupils of Grey College, where Pierre had been an educator for 20 years.
Pierre was killed a day before he was meant to be released by his captors, following year long negotiations with humanitarian agency Gift of the Givers, led by founder Dr Imtiaz Sooliman and his Yemeni representative Anas al Hamati. On Saturday morning, Sooliman had informed Yolande that Pierre would be home for Christmas, but he did not make it out alive.
US Special Forces raided the hideout where he and US journalist Luke Somers were being held hostage and a bloody shootout ensued . The US government maintains its intelligence officials did not know Pierre was being held hostage and were desperate to free Somers, whose life was being threatened by Al Qaeda. VOC (Nishta Sookdiyal)