South African hostage Stephen McGown released after six years
Stephen McGown, the South African man kidnapped by al-Qaeda in Timbuktu, Mali, in 2011 and kept in captivity, has been released.
International Relations and Co-operation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane announced on Thursday that McGown was now home and receiving counselling.
The minister said the family, civil society organisations and the government had been lobbying for his release for a number of years, but insisted that no ransom was paid.
Nkoana-Mashabane appealed to the media to give McGown and his family the space to recover from his experience.
In May‚ his family sent a message of hope to mark 2‚000 days since McGown and Swede Johan Gustafsson were captured in Timbuktu by al-Qaeda. His father Malcolm told TimesLIVE this what was he wanted to convey to his son: “Hang in there. Be strong. Life is worth living‚ so live day by day.” McGown was abducted while seated in a restaurant in Timbuktu. He was in a country as a tourist‚ travelling by motorcycle. “This was supposed to be his last adventure before starting a family. He’s now 42 years old‚” Malcolm said. Until now‚ the last time the family had heard from Stephen was in December 2015 when a video was posted on YouTube‚ as a gesture to prove he was alive. with TimesLIVE