AS IT HAPPENED: Tears as #StephenMcGown opens up about his captivity in Mali

2017-08-10 14:58

Stephen McGown, who has been freed after being held captive in Mali for almost 6 years, has spoken out about his ordeal.

News24 reporter Lizeka Tandwa covered the briefing.

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Last Updated at 23:12
10 Aug 16:42


Stephen McGown, who has been freed after being held captive in Mali for almost 6 years, has spoken out about his ordeal.

McGown was originally set to address the media last week, a day after he was released, however, it was postponed following a review of his medical report. His sister from London arrived for the cherished family reunion.

Wearing a blue shirt and seated with his wife and father, McGown revealed that he is now a Muslim. He explained that after entering Islam, he was treated well. He added that he has a lot to still learn about the religion.

"I see a lot of good in Islam. It has taken me away from capitalism. People are more important than money."

News24 will bring you a detailed story.

10 Aug 16:33

10 Aug 16:33

10 Aug 16:18
Some tears in the room.

10 Aug 16:18
McGown says the South African and Mali government were instrumental in his release

10 Aug 16:17
McGown praises his family for not giving up on him. Says he hopes his mom is smiling down on him. 

10 Aug 16:17
McGown is now thanking Gift of the Givers, SA, his friends and fellow hostages.

10 Aug 16:15
McGown: I see a lot of good in Islam. It has talken me away from capitalism. People are more important than money.

10 Aug 16:14
McGown says he was treated very differently after he converted to Islam. In Islam you need to treat your prisoner well. They would give you good meat.

10 Aug 16:10
McGown says he was named Lut by his captives after he entered Islam.

10 Aug 16:08
McGown: I don't want to harbour resentment. I am angry that I was not released prior to my mother's death because they knew she was ill. However, I will forgive them. I will move on.

10 Aug 16:06

10 Aug 16:00
McGown says he picked up many skills, such as building a hut, to survive in the Sahara desert. "The Sahara is beautiful."

10 Aug 15:58
Stephen McGown with his father and wife.

10 Aug 15:55

10 Aug 15:55
The initial ransom was 10 million Euros. It then dropped to 5 million Euros.

10 Aug 15:54
In December 2015, Mali captives reached out to Gift of the Givers founder Dr Imtiaz Sooliman. A video was made asking Qatar for money.

10 Aug 15:52
Any talk of ransom was dismissed by Gift of the Givers. Captives insisted money must be handed over. 

10 Aug 15:48
South Africans are incredible

10 Aug 15:47
McGown: My faith in mankind has been absolutely blown away. 

10 Aug 15:46
McGown: "There were good times and bad times."

10 Aug 15:46
McGown says one thing he missed was his freedom

10 Aug 15:45
Stephen's father, Malcolm McGown: Had it not been for Gift of the Givers, Stephen would have been there for another 5 years.

10 Aug 15:42

10 Aug 15:41
McGown says he got to know some of the men that captured him well and they would often joke with him

10 Aug 15:38

10 Aug 15:37
I am a God fearing person. I entered Islam on my own accord. I see many good things in Islam and I also see other things that does not sit well with me. I will be reading up on it. 

10 Aug 15:35
McGown says he was told that being kidnapped is better than being in jail.

10 Aug 15:33
McGown says he has no idea if he will keep his long hair and beard. "All my friends have beards now. I will fit in with them."

10 Aug 15:32

10 Aug 15:32
McGown says he was very concerned about his health. One time he could not stand up for about 5 days due to backache.

10 Aug 15:30
McGown thinks his British citizenship played a role in him being taken hostage.

10 Aug 15:29
McGown: "They kidnapped me because I was not Muslim."

10 Aug 15:28
McGown says his plan is to join his father in the family business

10 Aug 15:27
McGown says he is in the dark about how much things have changed over the past few years.

10 Aug 15:26

10 Aug 15:26
You are not sure if you are going to lose your head, says McGown about death.

10 Aug 15:22
McGown: Our first weeks we were chained at night and sometimes they would forget about us

10 Aug 15:22
McGown says the winters were cold and he only had one blanket

10 Aug 15:21
McGown says to stay positive he tried to escape from reality.

10 Aug 15:19
McGown: My mom was an amazing woman

10 Aug 15:18

10 Aug 15:18
McGown says one difficult part of his captivity is that he didn't have information and there are no books in English

10 Aug 15:17
McGown: I didn't want to come out an angry person and a bigger burden for my family

10 Aug 15:16

10 Aug 15:14

Stephen is dressed in a blue shirt. He has a long bearded and shoulder length hair. Seated next to him is his wife.

10 Aug 15:10

10 Aug 15:08
Stephen is still tryng to adjust to being back home. The process will be long.

10 Aug 15:07
Gift of the Givers founder Dr Imtiaz Sooliman is explaining how the negotiation of Stephen's release took place.

10 Aug 15:03
McGown’s mother died in May. She had been ill for several years and her condition had deteriorated before her passing.

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