SA man traumatised by Mali hostage-taking

Naledi Shange, News24

Johannesburg - A South African national who found himself at the centre of a hostage-ordeal at a hotel in Mali was extremely distraught, the Gift of the Givers said on Saturday.

The man was a Gift of the Givers volunteer but was in the west African country in his personal capacity, said group founder, Imtiaz Sooliman.

"He is very traumatised and cannot speak to us at all right now," said Sooliman.

"And for security reasons, we really can't speak to him now because they cannot use the phones. We hope to get in contact with them a bit later today."

The man was one of at least two South Africans who were at the Mali hotel when it was attacked on Friday.

"He hid in the bathtub to keep safe," said Sooliman.

Second South African safe

It was understood that the man was in the company of two other people at the hotel. The one was confirmed to be a South African national while the identity of the third was still unclear, Sooliman said.

"The second South African is also safe but the third person who they were with is still missing," said Sooliman.

Both men did not want to immediately be named.

They were both safe, said Sooliman, adding that they were rescued by the United Nations earlier on Saturday morning.

Meanwhile, the Agence France-Presse reported that military forces had informed them that at least seven people were killed as armed forced ended the siege.

Hotel cleared

The military operation at the Hotel Byblos in Sevare that is popular with UN staff" has ended and the hotel has been cleared", one of the sources was quoted as saying.

A number of hostages were freed overnight, and at least five foreigners evacuated from the site, Malian military sources have said.

News24 could not immediately reach the department of international and co-operation for comment.

Department spokesperson, Nelson Kgwete took to Twitter where he said they did not immediately have all the information concerning the incident.

"The SA embassy in Mali has confirmed that the attack on the hotel has ended. More info once identity of victims has been confirmed," he tweeted.

News24 Source