- The journalist was captured in January 10, 2017 near a hospital run by Gift of the Givers, a South African charity.
- The South African foreign affairs ministry has said that it had been working since the first day for the release of the photojournalist.
- South African hostage Stephen McGown, who was held in Mali by Al-Qaeda for nearly six years, was released in August 2017.
A South African photo-journalist, Shiraaz Mohamed, who was abducted three years ago in Syria, has returned to his home country after being set free. His family has confirmed this, adding that they would give more details later. “Shiraaz Mohamed is back in the country,” his ex-wife, Shaaziya Brijlal told AFP. “Owing to his recent circumstances, he and our family are requesting that we be given some space,” said Brijlal adding that a statement will be given in due course.
The journalist was captured in January 10, 2017 near a hospital run by Gift of the Givers, a South African charity while he was travelling out of the war-torn country to the neighboring Turkey. The first evidence that the journalist was alive came in January 2018, in the form of answers to ten questions. He then appeared in a video in April last year, speaking in front of an armed man. The circumstances of his release remain unknown. Gift for the Givers announced last month that Shiraaz “escaped from captivity,” but the family did not confirm this.
Shiraaz was kidnapped in 2017 near the Turkish border by suspected members of the Islamic State group. Until now, no group has said they were behind the journalist’s abduction. At the time of his abduction, he was working for Gift for the Givers, documenting the effects of the civil war in Syria.
In an e-mail he wrote to a close friend and fellow journalist days before his abduction, Shiraaz spoke of his hopes for the future. “This is a personal project for me . . . I feel that it is the least that I can do for the Syrians.” The journalist’s ex-wife had said that just before being taken captive, Shiraaz had warned that he might be abducted but was hopeful that the government and Gift of the Givers would negotiate for his release.
The South African foreign affairs ministry has said that it had been working since the first day for the release of the photojournalist. “That he is finally home is something we are really really happy about,” spokesman Lunga Ngqengelele added. He added that only the family could formally communicate on the matter.
A recent report by the Committee to Protect Journalist (CPJ) found Syria to be the deadliest country for journalists to work in. The CPJ said that seven journalists were murdered in 2019 alone. Many foreign journalists have been kidnapped since the start of the Syrian civil war in 2011, often by the self-described Islamic State Group.
South African hostage Stephen McGown, who was held in Mali by Al-Qaeda for nearly six years, was released in August 2017 after negotiations led by Gift of the Givers. No ransom was paid to secure McGown’s release according to the South African government.