MS Risk Blog

South African Hostage Freed After Six Years in Captivity

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Reports emerged this month that a South African hostage, who was held by al-Qaeda in Mali since 2011, has been released.

Stephen McGowan was kidnapped from a hotel in Timbuktu along with two other foreign nationals. He last appeared in a video in December 2015, along with another hostage, Swedish national Johan Gustafsson, who was freed in June. On Thursday 3 August, authorities confirmed that he was released after efforts by the two countries’ governments and NGO Gift of the Givers. Sources have indicated that he was freed on 29 July and is now home with his family. While it remains unclear why news of the release was delayed, it is believed that this was a security precaution. The South African government has disclosed that no ransom was paid for Mr McGowan’s release.