As the largest disaster relief organisation on the continent, Gift of the Givers (GOTG) are well known in South Africa for the work that they do during times of crisis. After the recent fires in Kysna the foundation was quick to respond to the countless people who had been left homeless, and again when a fire broke out in the informal township of Imizamo Yethu, the GOTG team was there to provide relief. But what a lot of people aren’t aware of is the role that the foundation has played in trying to get South African captives freed. Like the United States, which so famously ‘won’t negotiate with terrorists’, South Africa too takes the stance that paying ransom money for the release of captives is counter productive, and will only encourage terrorists to target South African citizens.

Stephen McGowan with his father, Malcolm McGowan, and wife, Catherine McGowan, Johannesburg, 10th August 2017

Stephen McGowan with his father, Malcolm McGowan, and wife, Catherine McGowan, Johannesburg, 10th August 2017

Being an independent organisation, Gift of the Givers are able to intervene in situations like that of Yolande Korkie, a South African woman who was being held captive by Al Qaeda in Yemen, and who was released with the assistance of GOTG in January 2014. The foundation played a similar role negotiating the release of Stephen Mcgowan, who returned home at the end of last month, after having spent six years in captivity. McGowan was kidnapped on the 25th November 2011, while on holiday in Timbuktu, Mali. Having been contacted by Stephen’s father, Malcolm, and realising that Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb were open to negotiations, the foundation set up talks. Having made the initial contact Gift of the Givers finally passed Stephen’s case on to the South African government at end of June 2017, who finalised his release a month later.

It is clear that Gift of the givers play an essential role in our country, and the City of Durban is grateful to Dr Imtiaz Sooliman and his foundation for the incredible work that they do in the name of South Africans, both locally and abroad.

Image courtesy of www.reuters.com