South African photojournalist Shiraaz Mahomed has been able to give his family the ray of hope they’ve waited years for. He was taken hostage in the vicinity of Gift of the Givers‘ Ar Rahma Hospital in Darkoush, Syria. Now, 27 months on, his captors have released a “proof of life” video featuring Mahomed.
Shiraaz Mahomed pleads for his life
The reporter talks to the camera – while a rifle is pointed at him by an ominous-looking guard – and pleas with friends, family and the government of South African to help secure his release. Diplomatic relations between Dirco and the disputed territories of Northern Syria are non-existent, making the release process extremely difficult.
Mahomed explains that the location he is being held at is currently under siege from aerial attacks planned by Russian forces. Fearing for his life in the 30-second video, the journalist desperately asks for assistance:
“Anyone that can help, I need your help to secure my freedom. I live in fear, I am scared. We are being bombed by the Russian Air Force. The bombs are getting closer and closer. Please help me.”
What’s likely to happen next?
Gift of the Givers are now confident that there will soon be a ransom demand made by the anonymous captors, for the first time since early 2017. In their official communications, the non-profit group have been careful with how much information they reveal, as they could put their sources – as well as Mahomed – in serious danger:
“The proof of life video, made on 13 April 2019, arrived by WhatsApp at 22:00 on 26 April. Shiraaz’s family was very emotional, ecstatic, full of hope and grateful to the Almighty. They knew for certain that Shiraaz was alive.”
“An important event on 12 April led to us successfully receiving this all-important video. Valuable information has been assimilated over his period of captivity. The video presents significant information. We can’t explain details for now as many lives would be in danger.”
Gift of the Givers
With Mahomed still being kept alive after such a long period of time, both the charity and his family are optimistic of finding a solution before it’s too late. Gift of the Givers say they are working with the International Relations department to plot a path home for the photographer.
Watch Shiraaz Mahomed’s plea for freedom here: