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Gift of the Givers recognised as negotiators for SA hostage in Mali

The group said its negotiator has managed to track down the hostage-takers & will begin negotiations.

South African Stephen McGowan and Swede Johan Gustofsson in a video released in June 2015.

JOHANNESBURG - Local aid group, Gift of the Givers, said it has made contact with the captors of South African Stephen McGowan, who has been held hostage in Mali for four years.

The organisation said a negotiator has managed to track down the hostage-takers and will try to negotiate his release.

McGowan was taken hostage in 2011 apparently by al-Qaeda militants.

Gift of the Givers Imtiaz Sooliman said, "They've told us indirectly that they recognise us as negotiators and they're willing to talk us. And the first step is that they will give us a video that has been made for us. Once we watch this video, we'll then look at the next step thereafter."

This is not the first attempt by the Gift of the Givers to negotiate the release of McGowan with the group after a failed attempt last year.

Sooliman said they contacted a number of spiritual and tribal leaders in West Africa and continued with other initiatives to locate the 39-year-old.

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