Korkie family await return of remains following botched rescue mission in Yemen

While reports have confirmed that South African teacher Pierre Korkie died in the middle of a cross fire that ensued involving US security forces, the Korkie family are talking forgiveness of those that held Pierre hostage all this time. Korkie was held hostage in the same location as US journalist Luke Somers, which prompted a response from the US government.

Speaking to Cape Talk's Kieno Kammies, Korkie family spokesperson Daan Nortier gave details on how the family is dealing with the situation:

The boy is 17 and in matric next year and the girl is 14. They're accompanying their Mom this morning to receive the body in Johannesburg when it is handed over by the Americans to the South African government. They will see their father for the first time in 18 months, but Yolande was taken away from him - without knowing what was going to happen to her - in January this year. There were very sensitive negotiations to have him set free and the expectation was that he was supposed to have been set free yesterday. Yolande and the kids have made a firm choice to forgive, there is no hatred, but are obviously going to take time to grieve.

An organisation that has been at the fore of lengthy negotiations with the Yemeni tribesmen that held Korkie hostage is the Gift of the Givers. Chairman of Gift of the Givers, Dr Imtiaz Sooliman expressed his disappointment to 702's John Robbie:

It's very devastating after all that effort. The effort doesn't matter, but the fact is, to give that lady so much hope, two hours after she had been given the final hope to say the waiting is almost over and you get this news. The ransom was eventually waived, but it was the tribal leaders who finally brokered some kind of a deal on the 26th of November, because that's the way they do it in Yemen. The tribal leaders have their say and there were several tribes involved.

Dr Sooliman says the lack of communication between their party and the US government couldn't be helped:

You don't know where the hostages are captured - it's impossible to know that. And in a situation like this, of course you don't make a live broadcast about it because things can go wrong. They are tribal leaders so things have to be kept as quiet as possible, otherwise people get nervous and things don't get done. So we had to follow what they said and just keep quiet about it. And at that stage, we expected the hostage to be moved to a point where it's safe because he was going to get ready to be moved to a runaway point, but we never thought that something like this would happen. But I had a premonition on Friday night, because they (the tribal leaders) were all anxious and I said 'I've got a feeling that the Americans will attack tomorrow, because remember they've got a deadline for 3 days for the hostage and there's no ways in the world they're going to sit back and allow that to happen. Guaranteed, I am convinced 100%, they are going to execute Luke, because they're (the Americans) are going to attack for their pride - the Americans are not going to allow this, they are going to go in'. (Says he doesn't blame the Americans though): but if it was another country, what would you have done if you knew your citizen could get killed, what would they have done to respond to the cries of their other citizens?

Meanwhile, US Ambassador to South Africa, Patrick Gaspard expressed condolences to the Korkie family and South Africa, adding they were unaware of negotiations by the Gift of the Givers in the same location:

The President learnt through his National Security Council that the American hostage Luke Somers faced imminent threat. There was a video released saying he would be executed within 72 hours. Upon the information from the Security Forces, President Obama authorised a rescue mission to attempt to free Mr Somers so that we would not see the same fate that we have seen others endure recently. The US government was absolutely unaware of any negotiations between Gift of the Givers and these brutal Al-Qaeda hostage takers. We were also unaware that Pierre Korkie was held in the same space as Luke Somers, so the attempt at rescue regrettably was unsuccessful and it was the second attempt in a few days and unfortunately it ended in this horrific tragedy.


This article first appeared on 702 : Korkie family await return of remains following botched rescue mission in Yemen


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