We're still hopeful for the release of Steve McGown - Gift of the Givers

It is reported that Swedish hostage Johan Gustafsson had been released by al-Qaeda militants who held him captive in Mali since 2011.

Gustafsson was forcibly taken from a restaurant in Timbuktu nearly 6 years ago.

The Swedish government confirmed that the 42-year-old had been flown home to Sweden and was in good spirits.

At the time of his abduction, Gustafsson was not alone. South African Steve McGown was taken hostage the same night in November 2011.

Efforts to bring McGown home safely seems to have failed.

CapeTalk's Pippa Hudson speaks to an organisation Gift of the Givers, that's been working tirelessly trying to negotiate with al-Qaeda.

Founder and chairman at Gift of the Givers, Imtiaz Sooliman says that they've tried to inquire about McGown upon hearing the news that Gustafsson has been released.

Unfortunately, they were told that McGown was still in captivity.

It makes it very very difficult now that he has been left alone. It means you are isolated in an area without any support or friends, with great uncertainty not knowing whether you are going to come out alive.

Imtiaz Sooliman, Gift of the Givers founder and chair

That creates a huge mental strain and that could affect his health and that's the part we are worried about right now.

Imtiaz Sooliman, Gift of the Givers founder and chair

Sooliman says that the abduction of McGown has left his family devastated. His mother died last month and his father and wife are still hopeful of his return.

We are very optimistic that we will get him out.

Imtiaz Sooliman, Gift of the Givers founder and chair

He says a strong message has been sent to Mali that they should consider releasing him. The ransom demanded is in Euros and will not be paid.

I told them if you waiting for money, I will be waiting, you will be waiting and Steve will be waiting till forever.

Imtiaz Sooliman, Founder and Chairman at Gift of the Givers

To hear more of this interview, please listen below:

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