SA hostage in Mali released

Johannesburg - Stephen McGown, a South African who has been held hostage in Mali for more than five years, has been released.

This was announced by International Relations and Co-operation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane at a post-Cabinet lekgotla media briefing on Thursday.

He was released on July 29.

Nkoana-Mashabane said McGown was in good health, but had undergone a medical check-up. This is normal procedure given the experience he had been through, she added.

McGown was abducted in November 2011 at a hostel in Timbuktu together with Swedish national Johan Gustaffsson, who was released in June.

He was held by AQIM (al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb), an Islamist militant organisation.

McGown's mother died in May, after a long illness.

"We give him a warm welcome back home particularly that he lands home with a mother who has passed on during his incarceration," AFP quoted Nkoana-Mashabane as saying.

"He was just a tourist in Timbuktu. We are happy that he is a free man."

Nkoana-Mashabane also said the government was "appalled" by Al-Qaeda kidnapping innocent citizens. 

- Read this interview his father gave to YOU magazine in July

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