Mother of SA hostage held in Mali dies


Imtiaz Sooliman, Catherine McGown, Beverley McGown, Malcolm McGown, Mohamed Yehia Dicko (hostage negotiator).

JOHANNESBURG – The mother of Stephen McGown -- the South African man held hostage in Mali for over five years -- has died without being reunited with her son.

McGown and Swedish national Johan Gustafsson have been held by al-Qaeda in Mali since their abduction in November 2011.  

Beverly McGown died in hospital on Saturday.

NGO Gift of the Givers, which has been trying to secure McGown’s release, says Beverly had been ill for a while.

READ: Gift of the givers hopeful for Christmas release of hostages

The organisation said her anxiety and longing to be reunited with her son finally took its toll.

“Thursday, 25 May, Stephen was in captivity for exactly 5 years and 6 months,” Gift of the Givers said.

“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.

WATCH: al-Qaeda's South African hostage pleads for release

“We failed her; my heart bleeds for her. We, as Gift of the Givers, tried everything humanly possible to get Stephen home but till now we have not succeeded. We hope and pray that by some miracle we will get him out. We haven't given up hope, are still trying against all odds and will continue relentlessly.”

McGown has spent more than 2,000 days in captivity in Timbuktu.

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