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

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Gift of the Givers mets Stephen McGown for first time earlier on Thursday. (Gift of the Givers via Twitter)
Gift of the Givers mets Stephen McGown for first time earlier on Thursday. (Gift of the Givers via Twitter)
News24 reporter Lizeka Tandwa covered the briefing.
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10 Aug 2017

RECAP:

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 2017

Some tears in the room.

10 Aug 2017

McGown says the South African and Mali government were instrumental in his release

10 Aug 2017

McGown praises his family for not giving up on him. Says he hopes his mom is smiling down on him. 

10 Aug 2017

McGown is now thanking Gift of the Givers, SA, his friends and fellow hostages.

10 Aug 2017

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

10 Aug 2017

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 2017

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 2017

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

10 Aug 2017

Stephen McGown with his father and wife.
Stephen <g class="gr_ gr_3 gr-alert gr_spell gr_inline_cards gr_run_anim ContextualSpelling ins-del multiReplace" data-gr-id="3" id="3">McGown</g> with his father and wife.

10 Aug 2017

The initial ransom was 10 million Euros. It then dropped to 5 million Euros.

10 Aug 2017

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 2017

Any talk of ransom was dismissed by Gift of the Givers. Captives insisted money must be handed over. 

10 Aug 2017

McGown: My faith in mankind has been absolutely blown away. 

10 Aug 2017

McGown: "There were good times and bad times."

10 Aug 2017

McGown says one thing he missed was his freedom

10 Aug 2017

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

10 Aug 2017

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 2017

McGown says he was told that being kidnapped is better than being in jail.

10 Aug 2017

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 2017

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 2017

McGown thinks his British citizenship played a role in him being taken hostage.

10 Aug 2017

McGown: "They kidnapped me because I was not Muslim."

10 Aug 2017

McGown says his plan is to join his father in the family business

10 Aug 2017

McGown says he is in the dark about how much things have changed over the past few years.

10 Aug 2017

You are not sure if you are going to lose your head, says McGown about death.

10 Aug 2017

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

10 Aug 2017

McGown says to stay positive he tried to escape from reality.

10 Aug 2017

McGown: My mom was an amazing woman

10 Aug 2017

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

10 Aug 2017

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

10 Aug 2017

Stephen is still tryng to adjust to being back home. The process will be long.

10 Aug 2017

Gift of the Givers founder Dr Imtiaz Sooliman is explaining how the negotiation of Stephen's release took place.

10 Aug 2017

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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