The wives of four South African men abducted on the outskirts of Baghdad, Iraq, nearly three years ago have made an emotional plea for help to President Jacob Zuma.
Speaking to the media in Pretoria today, the women cried as they spoke of their sadness and hope that they might one day find out what had happened to their husbands – whether they were dead or alive.
“As the wives, we are here to plead for help. Would someone out there please show compassion and human kindness,” said Marie Enslin, whose husband Johann was kidnapped on December 10 2006 along with Hardus Greef, Callie Scheepers and Andre Durant.
“We are sincerely appealing to our new leader Mr Jacob Zuma to assist us and our children.”
Referring to the Koran, Enslin said it read that husbands and wives were each other’s garments and in the Bible they were each other’s convents.
“Our garments and our convents have been missing for 1074 days,” she said.
The men were working for the private security operations company Safenet when they disappeared.
This Christmas would be the fourth she and their four children were without her husband, said Enslin.
“Whether dead or alive, the stress of living and missing loved ones is like a black hole in the heart. Please release them,” she appealed to the men’s captors.
“We need closure. If they are dead, God forbid, please be compassionate and hand over their remains so that we can have closure.”
Retha Scheepers echoed her fellow wives’ prayers that they needed to know what had happened to the men.
“We [my family and I] don’t know where he [Callie] is and every morning I wake up and think today is the day I’m going to get good news or bad news, and at night, nothing.
“We were married for one year and two months, I haven’t really got a marriage beyond the honeymoon stage. My family is broken because their father isn’t here,” she said.
Elmarie Greef said Safenet had promised to “unconditionally” support the women financially, however this had stopped when they went to the media.
“As we started speaking to the media… in December we did not get paid. They said we must declare our men dead and claim from the US government,” said Enslin.
In a statement shortly after the payments stopped, Safenet said this was no longer the responsibility of the company, which had done more than enough to help.
It was also unclear whether Safenet – which no longer operates in Iraq – had ever paid a ransom, even though it had assured the women it would.
“The rumour is just that it wasn’t paid. It was asked for, but never paid,” said Enslin.
“There are people out there who must know what’s going on,” she said.
Lourika Durant is the only one of the four women who heard from her husband Andre after his abduction.
He called her briefly on December 23, 2006, but the call was quickly disconnected.
“I was excited. It was such a high. I just can’t imagine what it would be like to hear his voice again.
“When my phone rings and it’s a no number or a private number, my heart beats. My youngest is one-year-old, so she doesn’t even know her daddy,” Durant said.
The women are receiving money from the US treasury department. Their husbands are not officially declared dead, but are still listed with the United Nations as being among the 45,000 people missing.
Shortly before the briefing, the department of international relations and cooperation issued a statement recognising that the abductions had left “numbness of unexplained cause and effect”.
The department said it had worked on the case since the start and had shared the families’ countless disappointments, dashed hopes and the absence of communication from the captors.
Original Story here