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$1.5m ransom demand for kidnapped South African


Kidnappers have demanded a ransom of $1.5m for the release of kidnapped South African photojournalist Shiraaz Mahomed.

The organization Gift of the Givers said in a statement on Saturday that negotiations for his release commenced this week.

Founder and spokesperson, Dr Imtiaaz Sooliman, said that they “made it clear” that Mahomed's family cannot afford the ransom amount.

“They said they are giving us time to consider options,” Sooliman said.

Last week he released a video, the second proof of life since Mohammad was kidnapped two years ago near a Gift of the Givers hospital in war-torn Syria.

In the video, Mahomed pleads to the South African government and public for help, saying that Russian Airforce bombing of South Idlib and North Hama, was becoming more intense.

“We are currently engaging with religious leaders to provide letters requesting the unconditional release of Shiraaz immediately, to prevent a tragedy,” Sooliman said.

He referred to the death of another kidnapped South African, Pierre Korkie, who was kidnapped by Al Qaeda in Yemen in 2013 and who was killed during a 2014 US raid to free the captives in on the day that his release was secured.

Sooliman also referenced the death of the mother of another South African kidnap victim, Stephen McGown's, who died before he was released by his Al Qaeda captors in Mali.

“We certainly don't want to live through another such incident.”