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Gift of the Givers to continue talks to release SA hostage in Yemen

Sapa

Gift of the Givers is pushing ahead with its strategy to secure the release of SA teacher Pierre Korkie, who was kidnapped in Yemen last year.

Gift of the Givers founder Imtiaz Sooliman says he is due to meet the kidnappers of South African teacher Pierre Korkie. (Reuters)

Negotiations with a group of kidnappers holding a South African teacher for ransom in Yemen are ongoing, Gift of the Givers founder Imtiaz Sooliman said on Sunday.

"We have planned our strategy," he told the South African Press Association.

He said his office manager in Yemen was in constant contact on the phone with the kidnappers holding Pierre Korkie captive. He was also planning on meeting the kidnappers in person on Monday.

Pierre's wife, Yolande, was released this week with the help of the organisation. She and her husband were captured in the city of Taiz in May last year.

On Friday, the kidnappers asked for $3-million (about R30-million) within eight days for Pierre Korkie's release.

Extended deadline
"The first aim is to extend the deadline and the next is to see if we can bring down the amount," said Sooliman.

He said his office manager had a "good rapport" with the kidnappers.

"We are hoping we can convince them we need more time."

Sooliman said South Africa's ambassador to Saudi Arabia landed in Yemen on Sunday morning. He would help with transportation and a new passport for Yolande to return to South Africa. He added she was feeling better and calmer on Sunday after cried for a long time on Saturday. But Yolande was now focused on organising a campaign in South Africa to raise the money to get Pierre freed, he said.

"She's very worried about her husband," said Sooliman.

The Sunday Independent reported that Yolande told them in a telephonic interview that she could not find words to thank Gift of the Givers for their help.

"Our hearts are overflowing. The people of South Africa must know that the passion and the commitment of the Gift of the Givers is unrivalled," she told the newspaper. – Sapa

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