'Until they show me Christo's body, I don't believe it': Wife of SA man kidnapped in Burkina Faso
"You can't mourn if you don't know," Amanda Bothma told TimesLIVE on Monday, as news began to filter through that her husband, Christo Bothma, had died in Burkina Faso last month.
"We don't know what to believe. Is he dead? Isn't he? It's crazy!"
Amanda was speaking after posting on a Facebook group that she received information from Gift of the Givers founder Imtiaz Sooliman on Saturday that Christo had died while being held captive in the west African country. The father of six was taken hostage from Djibo on September 23, where he was a mine worker.
According to Sooliman, the information received about Christo's death was reliable.
"Today [Saturday, July 27] both our intermediaries called, independently of each other, one from Niger and the other from Mali. Apologies for this but they both confirmed that Christo has passed on ... We still don't know how, when and under what circumstances Christo passed on, but we have no reason to doubt the message as both our contacts are extremely reliable and trustworthy. My deepest condolences to the family," he wrote.
Amanda shared the message on the Facebook group.
However, she said this was the second time they had heard that Christo had died. The first was on July 2, but because there was no proof they "kept it quiet".
Even despite this second confirmation, Amanda said the family was still holding on to hope.
"I didn't believe it and I told him [Sooliman] that I don't believe it. Until they can show me Christo's body, I don't believe it," she said.
She added that the waiting and uncertainty was hard.
"We are coping day to day. We don't have a choice. We have a big family and lots of friends that have supported us, but at the end of the day it's just you and your thoughts," she said.
Speaking of the sequence of events, Sooliman said the organisation received a call from its contact in Niger on June 19 saying "the South African in Burkina has passed on". Then, on July 1, there was another message saying "the news is true".
"On July 3 the same contact confirmed that 'the South African has passed on' ... Then, on July 4, we finally made contact with our Mali intermediary. He is in direct contact with all the captors, but he said he knew nothing of Christo's passing. He said he will check.
"We made contact with the Mali intermediary on July 12. Both he and the Niger contact called on Saturday July 27 to confirm that Christo has passed on," he said.
Sooliman said: "I'm very confident it is accurate."
He described Amanda's reaction to the news as a "normal reaction".
"You expect that to happen," he said.
Contacted on Monday, Nelson Kgwete, spokesman for the international relations and cooperation department, said he was not aware of the latest development, but would investigate.