Gift of the Givers

Gerco van Deventer remains held against his will in Mali. Photo: Gift of the Givers/ Facebook

Gift of the Givers final plea to free Al Qaeda kidnappee Gerco van Deventer

The free release of Gerco van Deventer negotiated by Gift of the Givers seems to be hanging by a thread as Al Qaeda remains mum.

Gift of the Givers

Gerco van Deventer remains held against his will in Mali. Photo: Gift of the Givers/ Facebook

Humanitarian organisation, Gift of the Givers, seems to have hit rock bottom in attempting to negotiate the free release of kidnappee Gerco van Deventer from Al Qaeda forces in Mali.


South African paramedic, Gerco van Deventer, has been in custody for 5 years and 8 months, making him probably the longest-held South African in captivity.

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Gift of the Givers negotiator, Mohamed Yehia Dicko, returned from Mali recently having engaged everyone possible to secure his release.

Yehia is said to have met the chief intermediary, several other intermediaries, elders, tribal leaders and people of influence to convince JNIM (Al Qaeda) to consider a ransom-free release as there was no source to provide the ransom money.


According to the organisation, Yehia also met Mali State Security to facilitate the safe passage of Gerco in the event a release occurs. The limiting factor in an unconditional release is the fact that JNIM ‘purchased’ Gerco from a group in Libya, and captors always want to be compensated for their ‘investment’.

Gift of the Givers says it made an impassioned plea in Ramadan, the month of Mercy, which is also known to ‘soften hearts’, to release Gerco unconditionally. Supported by vigils and placard displays at Pelican Park at the time of fast-breaking, a letter from the Muslim Judicial Council, a video message by them in Arabic, a video appeal from Shereen van Deventer and her son, Asher, Gift of the Givers requested Al Qaeda to contemplate an unconditional release having sent all this material to them.

“JNIM confirmed receipt of all the material within 48 hours. Under normal circumstances, they would then send an answer within 72 hours if they don’t agree. Two months later we haven’t received anything in the negative. On several occasions, they said it is under discussion.”

Gift of the Givers

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Scenes in Mali during the visit by Gift of the Givers negotiator, Mohamed Yehia Dicko. Photo: Gift of the Givers/ Facebook

Gift of the Givers says they also reminded them of a request during the days of Hajj (pilgrimage), yet another blessed time, again the answer was that they are considering.

“Inside information received puts those in favour of unconditional release at a higher percentage than those uncertain.”

Gift of the Givers

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In the meantime, the organisation indicated that both Mali and SA State Security have offered them total cooperation.

“A letter from SA State Security to Mali State Security requesting assistance in the Gerco case reached them last week. Mali SS has confirmed receipt and has requested Yehia to come back from South Africa to meet them. Gift of the Givers is in discussion with them on the value of this,” the organisation shed light.

“With all the above interventions and a huge dose of ongoing prayer, we hope that Gerco is released unconditionally soon. JNIM have been unambiguous in their communication that within the group an unconditional release is being discussed. There hasn’t been an outright rejection. We wait, hope and pray. Mali and South African State Security are ready to respond immediately and facilitate safe and secure passage if JNIM sends a favourable response confirming Gerco’s unconditional release. It was made clear to JNIM that this is Gift of the Givers’ final attempt as there are no alternative offerings except the ransom-free request,” the organisation explained.

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