Gift of the Givers believes SA man abducted in Burkina Faso died a hostage

22 January 2020 - 12:11 By Nonkululeko Njilo
Christo and Amanda Bothma.
Christo and Amanda Bothma.
Image: Bring Christo Bothma Back Home/Facebook

Humanitarian group Gift of the Givers said on Wednesday it had been “reliably informed” that South African mineworker Christo Bothma had died while being held hostage in Burkina Faso, west Africa.

The news comes after the weekend release of Kimar Akoliya, the son of an Indian gold mine owner in Burkina Faso who had been abducted alongside Bothma in September 2018.

The founder of the humanitarian organisation, Dr Imtiaz Sooliman, said he was in touch with the Akoliya family and was aware of the release. 

Asked about Bothma’s whereabouts, he said sources had confirmed that he had died.

“We were informed by different, reliable sources that Christo was no more, since 2018. We communicated this information with the family and they refused to accept it ... ”

“Just last week, we spoke to them (the sources) again, and we were told the same thing. When we asked for proof of death, they said they could not give it to us,” said Sooliman.

The abducted duo had been working together in Burkina Faso. Akoliya had been working as a director, while Bothma worked as a manger at a mine, according to the organisation. 

“Kimar confirmed that he and Bothma had been together for only six months (as hostages). They were later separated and a lot of incidents occurred after he was taken away. He said he had no idea what had happened to Bothma,” said Sooliman. 

Apart from getting his information from reliable sources, Sooliman said the reason he believed Bothma had died was that the abductors had stopped communication and negotiations for his release.  

Bothma’s wife, Amanda, said she had spoken to Sooliman on Tuesday. 

“It’s difficult to believe he’s dead but from the things I’m hearing it seems like it. But I can’t be 100% sure, because I am getting the information third hand ... ”

Amanda said Kimar Akoliya told his father, who then spoke to Sooliman and said her husband got involved in a fight with his captors. He allegedly grabbed their firearm and pointed it at them.

“I can’t imagine him doing that in his right state of mind, why would he do it?” she asked.   

“He also said Christo wasn’t coping, and that’s crap,” said a furious Amanda. 

She said Sooliman told her that her husband’s abductors wanted US$500,000 for repatriation of his body. 

“It could be true, could be false but where do they think I’ll get that kind of money?” she asked.

Sooliman’s remarks to Amanda had brought more questions than answers, she said. She said she was left with no choice but to wait to hear from Kimar.