International affairs minister Maite Nkoana Mashabane on Thursday announced the release of Stephen McGowan‚ who has been held hostage by Islamist militants in Mali since 2011. She said South African government did not pay a ransom for his release.
In May‚ his family sent a message of hope to mark 2‚000 days since McGowan and Swede Johan Gustafsson were captured in Timbuktu by AQIM. 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.”
McGowan 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.