Family of SA hostage urges govt for help

Stephen McGowan was kidnapped in Mali in November 2011.

Malcolm McGown, father of a South African man kidnapped in Mali in 2011, during an interview with EWN about the latest update on his son's hostage situation. Picture: Reinart Toerien/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - With five days until the deadline for the payment of Bloemfontein teacher Pierre Korkie's ransom expires, the father of another South African hostage has urged President Jacob Zuma to show more compassion and support to families involved.

Stephen McGowan was kidnapped in Mali in November 2011 by an al-Qaeda affiliated group.

Korkie is being held by al-Qaeda in Yemen.

The Department of International Relations and Cooperation and Gift of the Givers have been involved in negotiations to secure Korkie's release, but McGowan's family say they also need support.

McGowan's father, Malcolm, told Eyewitness News he has received little feedback from International Relations Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane since they met a year ago to discuss plans to secure his son's release.

Malcolm added he is surprised that Zuma has never spoken about his son or Korkie.

"I don't think the president has ever mentioned Stephen."

He says he wishes senior government officials would reach out to the affected families.

The McGowan family has not received an update on Stephen's condition since June 2012 when the kidnappers released a video of him where he appeared to be in good health.

Meanwhile, the group holding Korkie captive in Yemen has given a deadline of this Saturday to pay the R32 million ransom or he will be executed.

Korkie and his wife Yolande were taken hostage in Yemen almost 10 months ago.

Yolande was released with no ransom paid last month.

The South African government said at the outset that it would not pay any ransom as it goes against its foreign policy.

Chief negotiator for the Gift of the Givers, Anas al-Hamati, who was trying to help secure Korkie's release, left Yemen for his own safety last week.