Mother of SA hostage in Mali dies after agonised wait for his return


Mother of SA hostage in Mali dies after agonised wait for his return

Nivashni Nair | 2017-05-28 12:24:35.0

Stephen McGown

Image by: Gift of the Givers Foundation via YouTube

The stress and anxiety of having a son held hostage in Mali for more than five years was too heavy a burden for Beverly McGown.

McGown‚ whose son Stephen was abducted and held hostage by al-Qaeda in November 2011‚ died in a private hospital late on Saturday.

Aid organisation Gift of the Givers confirmed her death on Sunday.

“Beverly (had been) ill for many years but deteriorated over the last few months. Her anxiety over Stephen’s fate and her longing to see her son finally took its toll‚” said Gift of the Givers founder‚ Imtiaz Sooliman.

“On Thursday‚ Stephen (had been) in captivity for exactly five years and six months. We had seen the sadness in the mother’s eye and watched how she patiently waited… for the return of her son. We failed her; my heart bleeds for her‚” he said.

After a proof-of-life video was released in December‚ the McGown family believed their son would be home by January 28‚ in time for his 42nd birthday. Stephen and a Swede‚ Johan Gustafsson‚ have been held in Timbuktu since their abduction. Stephen was on a motorbike trip through Africa after working in Britain for a few years. His family lives in Johannesburg.

“We‚ as Gift of the Givers‚ tried everything humanly possible to get Stephen home but until now we have not succeeded. We hope and pray that by some miracle we will get him out‚” said Sooliman.

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