S. African gov’t investigating reported escape of photojournalist from captivity in Syria

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CAPE TOWN, Dec. 15 (Xinhua) — The government said on Sunday it was investigating the reported escape of South African photojournalist Shiraaz Mohamed from captivity in Syria.

“Through our consular services, we are looking into the matter and we will only be able to comment at a later stage when we have been able to verify the whereabouts of Mr Shiraaz Mohamed,” said Lunga Nqengelele, spokesperson for the Department of International Relations and Cooperation.

The news about Mohamed’s escape was circulated by Gift of the Givers, a humanitarian organization.

The organization said earlier on Sunday that Mohamed had escaped from his kidnappers with the help of “friendly people” who were very aware of his case.

“Gift of the Givers has received the encouraging news, from unknown sources yesterday, that Shiraaz Mohamed is free,” the organization said.

Gift of the Givers said it also has received two photographs of Mohamed from those anonymous people who helped with his escape.

The organization said Mohamed is now with Turkish authorities.

Gift of the Givers has alerted both the South African government and Mohamed’s family.

The organization said it’s now waiting for the South African government to contact Turkish intelligence to bring Mohamed back home as soon as possible.

Mohamed was kidnapped in Darkoush, Syria while on assignment in Syria in January of 2017. He was accused of being a foreign spy.

Mohamed’s family said in a statement that it will not comment on the matter unless it has received independent confirmation of Mohamed’s safety.

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