Nkoana-Mashabane: No ransom paid for Stephen McGowan’s release

McGowan was taken hostage along with two others in Timbuktu in northern Mali in 2011.

A screengrab from the latest video of South African Stephen McGowan who is being held hostage in Mali. Picture: Supplied

JOHANNESBURG/CAPE TOWN - International Relations Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane has confirmed the release of Stephen McGowan who was kidnapped by al-Qaeda in Mali six years ago.

The 42-year-old is the last of three hostages to be released from captivity in Timbuktu.

Nkoana-Mashabane made the announcement during a post Cabinet briefing at Parliament.

“McGowan who was held by al-Qaeda in Mali has been released.”

Nkoana-Mashabane says McGowan was released on 29 July and has since returned home.

She says he’s undergoing the necessary medical checks after having been held hostage since 2011.

McGowan was taken hostage along with two others in Timbuktu in northern Mali in 2011.

Swedish hostage Johan Gustafsson was released in June.

The third man held was freed in 2015 by French Special Forces.

Gift of The Givers, which had been negotiating McGowan’s release for six years, has confirmed he’s been freed.

The organisation’s Imtiaz Soolliman says the government facilitated his release and safe return.

“Our government was talking to the same people that we’d been talking to and in the last two or three weeks. And on 31 July we received a message from those people saying congratulations. We knew that message meant McGowan has been released.”

‘NO RANSOM WAS PAID’

Nkoana-Mashabane says no ransom was paid for McGowan's release.

Nkoana-Mashabane has also expressed her condolences to McGowan and his family following the death of his mother in May.

She’s called on South Africans and the media to afford him space to readjust to life after years of captivity.

McGowan and two others were kidnapped at a restaurant in Timbuktu in 2011.

He was a tourist in Mali at the time of the incident.

Meanwhile, the family of McGowan says that he is in good spirits.

His father Malcolm McGowan says his son is doing well.

“What can I say… it was a big surprise when Stephen walked through the door or the first meeting. But when I gave him a hug he felt astounded and as strong as before, so he was well treated up there.”

WATCH: Family briefs media on Stephen McGowan's release

(Edited by Zamangwane Shange)