South African paramedic: Captured in Libya, transferred to Malian jihadists

Captured in Libya, a South African citizen claims in a video to have been handed over to the Support Group…

Captured in Libya, a South African citizen claims in a video to have been handed over to the Support Group for Islam and Muslims (GSIM) in northern Mali after being captured in Libya.In front of a carpet presumably attached to a vehicle, a white man dressed in African garb with a full beard speaks in English in a video of just under two minutes viewed by APA. 

“My name is Gerco Van Deventer, it is 4 January,” the speaker begins, looking serene, and then introduces himself as a South African citizen. 

Mr. Van Deventer claims to be a captive of “the al-Qaeda branch in Mali,” referring to the Support Group for Islam and Muslims (GSIM).

 After several years in Afghanistan where he served in several roles in the private sector, Gerco Van Deventer, a military doctor, entered South Africa in 2017. 

While unemployed, he accepted a position as an ambulance driver in Libya, which has been in the grip of a security and institutional crisis since the death of former leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. 

It was in this country that he was kidnapped on 3 November 2017 before being “sold” eight months later to the GSIM, in utmost secrecy.

However, his relatives had campaigned for his release, in vain. 

In a two-minute video released in January 2019, Gerco Van Deventer sobbed as he called for his release, referring to his state of health. 

At the time, his captors were demanding $1.5 million, according to the director of the NGO Gift of the Givers, Dr Imtiaz Soliman, quoted by South African media outlet 

Since then, his case has been at a standstill.

Faced with this impasse, Gerco Van Deventer, now 48 years old, admits to having made this new appearance. 

“After many failed attempts by the jihadists to contact the government, they have failed and my existence has no value to them. So, I am trying something to stay alive,” he says in the latest video.

 Apart from the video, the South African hostage is said to have asked his wife, through a letter written in her name by his captors, to contact the wife of French journalist Olivier Dubois, who was also kidnapped in April 2021 by the GSIM while reporting in northern Mali. 

Van Deventer’s wife, contacted by APA, did not want to respond to our requests.

 This is not the first time a South African has been held in captivity in Mali. 

In 2011, Stephen McGrown was kidnapped in Timbuktu by Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) before being released in 2017. 

At the time, Pretoria said it had not paid any ransom to the jihadists.


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