3 February 2017

South Africa: Raids, Arrests in Search for Shiraaz Mohamed - NGO

People will be rounded up and arrested as the search for South African photojournalist Shiraaz Mohamed continues in Syria, the Gift of the Givers said on Friday.

"We have received word that there will be rounding up of suspects, arrests, investigations, and raids into different areas in an attempt to find Shiraaz," the foundation's Imtiaz Sooliman said.

Several prisons would be visited to determine if Mohamed had been wrongfully detained.

Following a ceasefire between various groups in the country on January 28, the foundation's task team had spoken many groups to try and find him.

Mohamed, who was based in Johannesburg, was abducted on January 10 on the way to the Turkish border. No group had claimed responsibility and no demands had been made.

Sooliman said over the past two days various people had been spreading the message that there was no reason for anyone to take Shiraaz.

"The people of Syria have come out very strongly against the captors saying clearly 'not in our name'."

A protest and media event was scheduled to take place on Saturday.

"The speculation from all engaged is that whoever took Shiraaz made a mistake, but to correct that mistake in the light of the civilian outrage is going to be very difficult.

"The captors are going to face severe repercussions unless they can release Shiraaz quietly without being identified."

Mohamed approached Gift of the Givers to facilitate his entry into Syria. He wanted to document the suffering of the Syrian people by making his pictures available to various international agencies that he filed for, Sooliman said.

Source: News24

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