shiraaz mohamed

SA photographer Shiraaz Mohamed, who was kidnapped in Syria almost three years ago, is free.

This is according to aid organisation Gift of the Givers, which said it had received the news from unknown sources on Saturday.

“The details are sketchy but we were told that Shiraaz ‘escaped’ from captivity and at some point was assisted by ‘friendly’ people, who were very aware of his case, given the huge publicity Gift of the Givers initiated worldwide around Shiraaz’s capture,” Gift of the Givers founder Imtiaz Sooliman said on Sunday morning.

Mohamed was taken hostage on January 10 2017, in Darkoush, Syria. He had gone on his own accord as a photojournalist to capture the suffering of the Syrian people.

“We thanked the caller for contacting us but informed him that we had withdrawn from Shiraaz’s case on June 26 2019 as the family had decided to go with an alternative option,” Sooliman said.

He said the organisation asked that, even though it was no longer involved, if the source would send a picture of Mohamed to pass on to his distraught family and to ensure that it was indeed Shiraaz that he was referring to.

“He graciously responded with one picture immediately. Late at night he sent us a second picture and said it was taken just before Shiraaz was handed over to Turkish Intelligence,” Sooliman said.

Sooliman said the organisation had informed Mohamed’s family, international relations and co-operation minister Naledi Pandor and consular services of the latest development.

“All have acknowledged our messages. We now wait for the SA government to make contact with Turkish Intelligence to bring Shiraaz home as soon as practically possible,” Sooliman said.

Mohamed’s family said it would like to respond to the latest news regarding his release. “However, considering the sensitive nature of his circumstances, we believe it is irresponsible to make any public comment as it may endanger his life.

“We will keep the media informed once we have received independent confirmation that Shiraaz is safely with the relevant authorities,” the family said in a statement.