No word – as deadline for Korkie lapses

FILE PICTURE: Former Deputy minister of International Relations Ebrahim Ebrahim. Picture: Unati Ngamntwini

A complete blackout in communication occurred as the deadline to save captive Bloemfontein teacher Pierre Korkie, drew to an ominous close yesterday.

Deputy International Relations Minister Ebrahim Ebrahim travels to Yemen today to make a last-ditch attempt to effect Korkie’s release.

It was not known if Korkie is still alive after the failure to pay his Al-Qaeda captors’ ransom of more than R30 million.

Gift of the Givers founder Imtiaz Sooliman, who negotiated for Korkie’s wife Yolande’s release last week, said yesterday afternoon he was anxiously waiting for some form of communication from the captors.

“We request continuous prayer for our countryman … At this moment in time our hearts and prayers go out to the Korkie family … There can be no pain greater than the uncertainty of knowing the whereabouts and condition of your loved one and whether that loved one is still alive.”

By Wednesday, there had been a “substantial reduction in bilateral communication” between Gift of the Givers and the captors, he said. “On that day we spoke to them for about three minutes only. All previous communication was several hours per day either telephonically, face-face or both.”

A 30-day extension was requested with no response to date.

On Thursday evening the captors were called to make it clear that even with an extension, the money may not be raised.

“We didn’t want to create the expectancy that the extension of time will automatically result in the delivery of $3 million (more than R30m). When we clarified this, it was the first time in 11 days that there was an ominous silence. They didn’t respond, comment, acknowledge or say anything. They just cut the call.”

Korkie’s whereabouts are not known, but Gift of the Givers remains positive, said Sooliman.

“In our calculation the 8-day deadline ends tomorrow at 6am but on Monday they told us it was this Friday. No time was given. ”

Department spokesperson Nelson Kgwete said the minister had been involved in the discussions from the start. His late travel to the country would “only be a continuation” of these discussions.

“We want to see him released and unharmed.”

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