Al-Qaeda hostage was planning to start a family

2015-06-23 14:41
Stephen McGown in a screengrab from a video. (AQIM, Al-Jazeera)

Stephen McGown in a screengrab from a video. (AQIM, Al-Jazeera)

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Johannesburg - The wife of a South African man who was kidnapped by al-Qaeda in Mali more than three years ago is in poor health, his father told News24 on Tuesday.

Stephen McGown was preparing to start a family with his wife before he was kidnapped in November 2011, said Malcolm McGown.

McGown’s kidnapping has also left his mother suffering from ill-health.

However, his father said a video of his son had left the family feeling relieved “to see he looks as good as he does”.

The video runs for almost 19 minutes and is titled "A trip to interview two prisoners". It was posted on Youtube and on a Mauritanian website called Sahara Medias, which has a history of releasing statements by Islamist groups.

The video shows McGown and Swedish citizen Johan Gustafson.

The two hostages, speaking as their kidnappers look on, call in turn for the governments of South Africa and Sweden to secure their freedom, without mentioning negotiations or demands for a ransom.

Malcolm McGown said it was up to the government to respond to demands made by his son’s captors.

“It’s up to government to take it forward,” he said.

The Department of International Relations and Co-operation’s Nelson Kgwete said the South African government was aware of the newly-released video.

“Efforts are ongoing to secure McGown’s release.

“We are working with various roleplayers in Mali and elsewhere.”

Kgwete said McGown’s family was kept abreast of all developments.

Read more on:    al-qaeda  |  mali  |  west africa  |  abductions

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