04/08/2017 13:06 SAST | Updated 04/08/2017 13:10 SAST

Reintegration Is Very Hard And A Day-By-Day Process, Says Yolande Korkie On McGowan Release

'McGowan is returning to a different world...he has also changed...his family has changed'.

Alet Pretorius/Gallo Images
Stephen McGowan's wife, Catherine, flanked by family and government officials at a media briefing following McGowan's release.

When one is captured by militants and then released, reintegration into society becomes a process, former Al-Qaeda captive Yolande Korkie told Radio 702's Bongani Bingwa.

"As a hostage, you've been stripped from your identity, you've been stripped from making choices, you've been not allowed to have any responsibility and then suddenly you've got to be that again," she said.

"Reintegration is a very hard and slow process," she said, especially in the first few months.

"It needs to be taken day-by-day."

Korkie was speaking to Bingwa following the release of SA hostage Stephen McGowan, who was held captive by Al-Qaeda militants in Mali for more than five years. McGowan was released on July 25 and reunited with his family in Johannesburg on Sunday.

Korkie and her husband Pierre were kidnapped by Al-Qaeda militants in Taiz, Yemen, in May 2013. Yolande was released in January 2014, but her husband was not. He was killed later that year, during an attempt by US special forces to free an American hostage in Yemen, Gift of the Givers said.

Korkie said she was going through a lot of emotions following McGowan's release.

"Most of all I can say praise God. I am so relieved for them and happy that they can be reunited. That's the dream of the hostage and the dream of the hostage family."

She also pointed out the importance of love, especially from family and society.

"South Africans who supported me will support Stephen in the same way."

"Five years, five and a half years, we're going for six years...not only has the world changed but he has changed and his family has changed...something happens with you when you're a hostage, something really deep, deep-seated change."