10 January 2018

South Africa: MDDA Calls for Release of Shiraaz Mohamed

The Media Development and Diversity Agency (MDDA) has called for the urgent release of kidnapped photojournalist Shiraaz Mohamed following reports that he is still alive.

"While the MDDA welcomes reports by the Gift of the Givers that they have received proof that the photojournalist is still alive, the MDDA joins the collective call for the urgent release and return of Shiraaz to his family, friends and colleagues in the media," the agency said in a statement.

Non-profit organisation (NPO), Gift of the Givers, confirmed in statement released on Tuesday that it received proof of Mahomed's life on Monday.

The Gift of the Givers said it received a call on 26 December 2017 with the callers claiming they were "the door to Shiraaz". Following the call, the Gift of the Givers drafted a list of questions in consultation with Mohamed's family to assess whether their son was alive.

On 2 January 2018, the NPO received a call again confirming that the questions had been answered.

According to Gift of the Givers, the Mohammed family has confirmed that the questions were correctly answered and could only be answered by Mohamed.

The 10th of January 2018 marks one year since South African photojournalist and community media stalwart, Mohamed, was kidnapped in Syria while with the South African international humanitarian organisation, Gift of the Givers.

Mahomed was captured in Syria on his way back to the Turkish border. The two drivers who were held with him were released immediately.

He had come to record and broadcast the hardship of the Syrian people, delivered food and blankets in refugee camps.

"Together with the worldwide media, the MDDA condemns any attacks on the entrenched right of journalists to work free from the threat of violence and to thereby ensure the right to access to information for all," said the MDDA.

Mohamed is a member of the MDDA sister organization, Association of Independent Publishers (AIP), and is a well-known and loved figure in the community media sector.

Amongst other initiatives, Mohammed started a community newspaper in Ennerdale, Gauteng. Despite desperate attempts to find him, his whereabouts remain unknown.

"The MDDA extends heartfelt support to the Mohamed family during these distressing times and thanks all those who are working tirelessly to free him," said the agency. - SAnews.org.za

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