Mother of SA hostage in Mali dies with­out re­u­nion

The Witness - - NEWS - — News24.

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.

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