South Africa Pleads With Kidnappers in Yemen for Hostage’s Life

Jan. 22 (Bloomberg) -- South Africa appealed to kidnappers with suspected links to al-Qaeda to release a South African teacher who’s been held hostage in Yemen for eight months.

“Pierre Korkie is gravely ill and desperately needs medical attention,” Ebrahim Ebrahim, deputy foreign affairs minister, said on Yemeni television, according to a statement by the Department of International Relations and Cooperation. “I beg those who are holding him to release him without delay.”

Korkie and his wife Yolande were working for a local charity when they were kidnapped in May in the southern province of Taiz. While Yolande Korkie was released without any conditions on Jan. 10, the kidnappers are demanding $3 million for the release of Pierre Korkie, the South African Press Association reported today.

“South Africa is a developing country and the Korkies are not a rich family,” Ebrahim, who travelled to Yemen to consult with the Yemeni government on the issue, said. “We beg you to save the life of Pierre, an innocent South African teacher who came to Yemen to contribute to uplifting your wonderful land.”

Arrangements are being made to send a signed version of Ebrahim’s appeal directly to the kidnappers, the international relations department said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Rene Vollgraaff in Johannesburg at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Nasreen Seria at