Stephen McGowan was treated well in Mali, says father

Surprise, relief and joy that’s how the family of a man held captive by al-Qaeda in Mali reacted when they saw him for the first time in six years.

FILE: Stephen McGowan who was being held hostage in Mali was released on 2 August 2017. Picture: Supplied.

PRETORIA - Surprise, relief and joy -- that’s how the family of a man held captive by al-Qaeda in Mali reacted when they saw him for the first time in six years.

Stephen McGowan is back on South African soil after his release from Timbuktu was finally secured at the weekend.

His father Malcolm says he’s happy his son has returned healthy and well.

He has praised the president, government, NGOs and various organisations for their help in getting him home.

Malcolm McGowan says it was a big surprise to see his son Stephen for the first time in six years.

He was speaking in Pretoria alongside his daughter-in-law, and the Ministers of International Relations and State Security.

He says it’s clear that his son was treated well in Mali.

“But when I gave him a hug he felt as strong as before, so he was well treated up there. Obviously, the joy and miracle that it happened.”

McGowan is hoping that his son will now be able to pick himself up and carry on with life.

“We’ve had to say to Stephen, a lot of water has passed under the bridge but you’re strong, you've got to get up and carry on with your life.”

International Relations Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane has made it clear that no ransom was paid to secure Stephen’s release.

(Edited by Zamangwane Shange)