After a video of abducted photographer Shiraaz Mohamed surfaced on social media on Sunday, a researcher from the Afro-Middle East Centre (AMEC) informed the Mail & Guardian that the freedom of the photographer is far from a simple matter.
While Gift of the Givers, a humanitarian organisation, appears confident Mohamed will return, Ebrahim Deen, a researcher at AMEC told the M&G that it may not be “easy” for Mohamed to be released.
Deen was comparing Mohamed’s situation to that of another South African man, Stephen McGown, who was held captive in Mali from 2011 to 2017 before being released with the intervention of Gift of the Givers.
Deen said that the Malian government wanted the freedom of McGown, but it is different in Mohamed’s case as he was in Syria illegally.
Deen added that the South African government would have to go through the Syrian government if they wanted Mohamed to be released and since this case has not gone through any Syrian senate, it makes it all the more difficult.
The department of international relations and cooperation (Dirco) released a statement on its website acknowledging the video and saying that they have been in touch with Mohamed’s family.
However, they said that DIRCO will not engage in media interviews nor will they give further information due to the “sensitivity of the matter”.
Deen also gave his analysis on the video of Mohamed saying that the date on the paper is a critical point, because we know that this video was taken now and not a while back.
The video shows Mohamed holding up a board dated April 13 2019. An unknown gunman is seen behind thim, as he pleads for his release calling on founder of the Gift of the Givers, Dr Imtiaz Sooliman, his family and the international community to intervene.
Mohamed said in the video that the area he has been detained in in danger of being bombed by Russian forces.
“I live in fear of my life. I am scared. We are being bombed. The area that I am in is being bombed by the Russian air force. The bombs are getting closer and closer and closer. I need your help. Please help me,” Mohamed says.
#BREAKING this is a video dated 13 April 2019 of Shiraz Mohamed the South African photo journalist who has been held in captivity in Syria since January 2017 @GiftoftheGivers pic.twitter.com/tkY5jAuLcx
— Ashraf Garda (@AshrafGarda) April 28, 2019
Deen said that Russian air forces had recently bombed Northern Aleppo and Idlib which may be an indication of where Mohamed is being held.
Mohamed was captured at the Turkish border with Syria in 2017 when he was accused of being a foreign spy. Deen said that one way of getting him released will be to get him to Turkey, because the South African government would then be dealing with the Turkish government instead of the Syrian government.