Footage of the Capetonian photojournalist Shiraaz Mahomed, who disappeared three years ago, has surfaced, and he is pleading with the government to help free him from his captors in war-torn Syria.

Mahomed was kidnapped in Syria while travelling back to the Turkish border on 10 January 2017 in the company of Gift of the Givers. He was taken along with two other drivers, who were released shortly afterwards while he was interrogated by the kidnappers.

The footage of Mahomed was released to Gift of the Givers, a South African non-governmental organisation, and the photojournalist’s distress is clear as he begs for help while a masked individual holding a gun stands behind him.

“My name is Shiraaz Mahomed, a South African photographer. Dr Imtiaz Sooliman, my South African president, my family, my friends, the international community, anyone that can help, I need your help in securing my freedom please… I live in fear of my life, I am scared… The area I am in is being bombed by the Russian air force and the bombs are getting closer and closer and closer, I need your help, please help me…”

 

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Proof of Life Video Received for Shiraaz Mahomed. It has taken 2 years and 3 months but finally, Gift of the Givers has received proof of life for journalist Shiraaz Mahomed, who was abducted on 10 January 2017 in the vicinity of Gift of the Givers Ar Rahma Hospital in Darkoush, Syria. A photojournalist, with a passion to document the hardships of communities in distress, he wanted to narrate the tragedy of the Syrian people to the world through pictures. Shiraaz has been accused of being a foreign spy, a disingenuous way to justify the captivity of an innocent man. On 8 January 2018, the first proof of life was received in the form of answers to ten very personal questions which only Shiraaz could answer. The answers were accurate and Shiraaz’s family had no doubt that it was from him. It has been a very difficult period engaging large networks of people to trace Shiraaz’s whereabouts. The proof of life video, made on 13 April 2019, arrived by WhatsApp at 10pm 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. Imtiaz Sooliman(Gift of the givers)

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A clear image of the video displays his name and the exact date as “13/04/2019”.

Mahomed had travelled to Syria with the intention of capturing images of the turmoil, hardships and struggles faced by communities in the country.

Imtiaz Sooliman, founder of Gift of the Givers, says Mahomed is being held prisoner and has been accused of being a foreign spy. Gift of the Givers received the footage via WhatsApp at 10pm on Friday, April 26.

“Shiraaz has been accused of being a foreign spy, a disingenuous way to justify the captivity of an innocent man.”

Sooliman says the family of Mahomed was overwhelmed to discover that he is still alive: “Shiraaz’s family was very emotional, ecstatic, full of hope and grateful to the Almighty. They knew for certain that Shiraaz was alive.”

In 2018, the organisation gained initial proof that Mahomed was still alive by asking 10 questions that only he would know the answers to. 

Sooliman says that progress is being made in the search to find Mahomed.

“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.”

Picture:Instagram, Abaphenyi News.

Article written by

Ishani Chetty

Ishani is a vegetarian who is passionate about animals, social issues, the environment and current affairs.