A South African man who has been held hostage in Mali for four years, has expressed hope that he would see his family soon, in a video released to the organisation Gift of the Givers.
Stephen McGown, looking thin and sporting a long beard, thanked the South African government and the charity organisation, and assured his family that he is well.
The video, which was released by his captors, has been described by the Gift of the Givers as “absolutely credible and realistic”.
“My name is Stephen McGown. I’m a South African citizen. Today’s date is Tuesday, the 20th of October 2015. Short message to the South African government: I thank you for your continued efforts in negotiating my release.
“My wife and my family, I am well. I hope you are all well back home. I understand that I will be seeing you soon.
“I believe that there’s an organisation involved now, a South African organisation involved, brokering the release. I thank this organisation… I thank this organisation for everything, for… really for bringing this to a close and having me home soon. Thank you.”
Swedish citizen Johan Gustafsson, also with a long beard and wearing a light-brown shirt like McGown, had a similar video message.
“I miss my family very much,” he said, and also thanked his government and the Gift of the Givers.
“The most heartening aspect of the video is the fact that the captives are now aware that negotiations are underway for their release which would certainly instil a great deal of hope and positivity in them,” the Gift of the Givers said.
“The road is still long but we will make progress.”
McGown and Gustafsson were abducted in Timbuktu by Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) in Mali in November 2011.