Govt says they’re confident about safe return of SA al-Qaeda hostage in Mali

The Department of International Relations and Co-operation (Dirco) say that they are assured that Stephen McGowan, abducted by al-Qaeda in Timbuktu almost four years ago, will return alive to South Africa and his family.

McGowan appeared in a new video pleading with South African government to secure his freedom and thanking his family for their support.

Dirco Spokesperson Nelson Kgwete says that although they cannot disclose details of the situation, in fear of compromising McGowan’s safety, they are working with the relevant stakeholders to negotiate his release.

It is very emotional to see Stephen in that condition in the video. We’ve worked with various stakeholders in Mali and elsewhere to try and negotiate his release... We are very confident that he will return alive.

Nelson Kgwete, Dirco Spokesperson

According to Kgwete, Dirco was previously in contact with the kidnappers, but have struggled to make contact since the Mali government was overthrown. He advises that they have other contingency arrangements in place to deal with this obstacle.

A hopeful father

Malcolm McGowan, Stephen's father, says that he has not given up despite the fact the he hasn’t spoken to his son since his abduction.

At least he is still alive. He is once again appealing to government to do something to get him out. It’s been over three and a half years at this stage.

Malcolm McGowan, Stephen McGowan's father

Malcolm says that he has received support from the public and is personally doing all he can to respond to his son’s plea.

I think money is paid at the end of the day. I said I would gather together what I can to pay. But families can’t afford what governments are able to, although in all rights, the government shouldn't have to pay.

Malcolm McGowan, Stephen McGowan's father

For more information on Dirco's rescue efforts, visit the EWN website.

Listen to the full conversation on The John Robbie Show:

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