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14 Jan 2014 15:15
Negotiations are underway with rebels in Yemen to get Pierre Korkie released. (Reuters)
The wife of a South African man being held hostage in Yemen has arrived back in the country, the international relations and co-operation department said on Tuesday.
"She is in the country. [She arrived] yesterday [Monday] afternoon [at OR Tambo International]," said spokesperson Clayson Monyela.
Yolande Korkie and her husband Pierre were captured in the city of Taiz in May.
She was released last week, with the help of the Gift of the Givers, whose founder Imtiaz Sooliman said on Monday that face-to-face negotiations with the group of kidnappers would begin on Tuesday.
Anas Al-Hamati, the NGO's office manager in Yemen, arrived in the area where Korkie was being held on Tuesday.
"[Al-Hamati] has been in constant contact over the phone.
"[He] will take copies of [Korkie's] South African passport to prove that he is not American, [because] the amount they are demanding is outrageous," said Sooliman.
On Friday, the kidnappers asked for the payment of $3-million (about R32.5-million) within eight days to secure Korkie's release.
"The first aim is to extend the deadline and the next is to see if we can bring down the amount," Sooliman said at the time.
He said Al-Hamati 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 to assist with Yolande Korkie's return to South Africa.
He said she had cried for a long time on Saturday, but was now focused on organising a campaign in South Africa to raise the money to get her husband freed. – Sapa
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