Our press release on 24 November 2015 confirmed that we had made contact with Al Qaeda in Mali. They were holding two hostages, South African, Stephen McGown, and Swede, Johan Gustafsson. We received a call on Friday, 20 November, and subsequent calls on Saturday, Sunday and Monday, where we were requested to personally collect video footage concerning the two hostages.
Our Mali negotiator, Mohamed Yehia Dicko, arrived in Bamako on Wednesday, 25 November 2015, coinciding with the fourth anniversary of the hostages being taken captive. It was a week of tense waiting and patience. We received three to four calls a day through the intermediary apologizing and confirming that a video will be available soon. It finally happened at 13h00 on 1 December 2015, where we received two videos, one for each hostage. The video is self explanatory. Date of production is mentioned as 20 October. Given our interactions over the last few weeks and the content of the video that date is absolutely credible and realistic. 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 instill a great deal of hope and positivity in them.
The road is still long but we will make progress.