Shiraaz Mohamed Has Allegedly Escaped Syrian Captivity

Photo of Shiraaz Mohamed sent to Gift of the Givers, by unknown informants. Credit: Twitter@GiftoftheGivers

Shiraaz Mohamed is a South African photojournalist who was captured in Syria while on assignment in 2017.

On Sunday 15 November, Gift of the Givers, the largest disaster response NGO of African origin, took to Twitter to announce that Shiraaz Mohamed has allegedly escaped captivity. He was kidnapped in January 2019, after he was accused of being a spy. According to their tweet, they received the news from an unknown source, claiming that they had been helping Shiraaz since his escape. The informants also sent photographs of Shiraaz as proof that he is still alive, and claimed that he was handed over to Turkish Intelligence after the photos were taken.

Gift of the Givers, who withdrew from the case on 26 June 2019, as the family decided to use an alternative organisation, said that they contacted his family, Minister Naledi Pandor and the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) as soon as they received the information.

According to reports, Shiraaz had gone to Syria in January 2017. He had gone on assignment to capture photographs of the conditions in the war-torn country and was allegedly abducted by a group of armed men on 10 January, on his way to the Turkish border when he was accused of being a spy. The men had requested ransom money in order to secure his safety and well-being. Various videos, in which he begs and pleads for help and his freedom, were released throughout his time in captivity. It is unclear whether Shiraaz was physically harmed or tortured while being held hostage or why exactly the group decided to hold him captive for so long.

The family is treating the new information with caution as the details surrounding his escape and release are still unclear.