10 August 2017

South Africa: McGown - 'I Did My Best to See the Best in the Bad Situations and the Difficult Times'

Photo: Gift of the Givers Foundation
Stephen McGown (file photo).
analysis

After six years in the desert, former South African hostage in Mali, Stephen McGown, is ready to live. KRISTEN VAN SCHIE reports.

Five years and eight months into his captivity under al-Qaeda, after days travelling through the Sahara swapping cars and dodging surveillance aeroplanes, a driver turned to South African hostage Stephen McGown and said, "You are free. You can go."

It was a moment McGown didn't believe when it was happening, just as he hadn't believed his captors days earlier when they had said he would be home soon and should pack his things.

"Take what's important; take what you don't want to leave behind," they had said.

As the days and months and years had gone by, McGown had grown tired of believing, only to "come down with a bang".

And yet on Thursday afternoon, there he was at his first press conference back on South African soil and facing a wall of cameras asking him about life plans and beard plans and just how it felt finding out his mother had died only two months earlier.

McGown, Dutch national, Sjaak Rijke and Swede, Johan Gustafsson were abducted on 25 November, 2011, from a backpackers in Timbuktu, Mali....

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