Situation of South African kid

Situation of South African kidnapped by al-Qaeda in Yemen critical

There’s no sign from South African teacher Pierre Korkie, as his execution deadline comes and passes.

Situation of South African kid


A South African national remains in captivity in Yemen after being abducted by al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) last year. Ongoing threats of execution have reportedly been toned down for the time being but cannot be officially confirmed.

56-year-old Pierre Korkie was kidnapped alongside his wife Yolandé in the Yemeni city of Taiz last May. The couple from Bloemfontein were held at an undisclosed location until January 2014, when a mediator supposedly arranged for Yolandé’s release on the condition that they would keep Pierre for ransom.

Since her return to South Africa, Yolandé Korkie has been fiercely campaigning for her husband Pierre to be freed, managing via her anonymous mediator, who is accredited to be a powerful tribal leader in the country, to exclude the threat of execution – according to some reports at least. However, there was no word on Pierre Korkie’s whereabouts, as the latest deadline for ransom payment passed earlier this week.

Korkie’s kidnappers had previously set an ultimatum for the South African government to pay a $3 million ransom by 17 January 2014, which later they agreed to extend by another three weeks. Community members in Bloemfontein managed to accrue a fraction of the kidnappers’ demands, which AQAP rejected squarely.

Pierre Korkie has been suffering from a grave case of hernia throughout his eight-month captivity, menacing that a natural death brought on by his illness might precede an execution. The South African government has not commented on any recent progress on the ongoing case.

Over the weekend, Yolandé Korkie issued a video recording to al-Qaeda, in which, after a greeting in Arabic, she made the following announcement: “Pierre is an innocent and honest person who served the poor people through his teaching. My two children and I miss him terribly. He was just an ordinary man from South Africa. He is gravely ill and he will not survive captivity.”

Pierre Korkie’s abduction and captivity in Yemen by AQAP follows the 2012 abduction of banker Stephen McGown in Mali in late 2011 by al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, as the African continent is getting drawn into further such acts of terrorism.

By Sertan Sanderson, 2014