Mother of SA hostage in Mali dies without reunion
CAPE TOWN — The mother of a South African man who has been held hostage in Mali for five and a half years died on Saturday evening.
Beverly McGown, mother of Stephen McGown, had been ill for many years but deteriorated in the last few months, said Gift of the Givers chairperson Imtiaz Sooliman. “Her anxiety over Stephen’s fate and her longing to see her son finally took its toll.”
McGown and Swedish national Johan Gustafsson have been held by AlQaeda in Mali since their abduction in November 2011. “We had seen the sadness in the mother’s eye and watched how she patiently waited in dignified pain for the return of her son. We failed her; my heart bleeds for her,” said Sooliman.
The Gift of the Givers appointed a hostage negotiator and sent him to Mali in July 2015. Sooliman said they tried everything humanly possible to get McGown home but have not yet suc ceeded. “We haven’t given up hope, are still trying against all odds and will continue relentlessly.”
The organisation extended its condolences to the family. It said Yolandie Korkie sent condolences and a message of support. Korkie and her husband, Pierre, were kidnapped by AlQaeda militants in Taiz, Yemen, in May 2013. She was released eight months later. However, Pierre was killed during an attempt by the U.S. Special Forces to free him in 2014.