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Family of former South African hostage in Mali thanks Algeria

Family of former South African hostage in Mali thanks Algeria
This undated and unlocated handout picture released by the van Deventer family on December...   -  
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South Africa

The family of a South African held hostage in Libya and then Mali for more than six years thanked the Algerian authorities on Monday for their role in his release in mid-December.

Gerco Van Deventer, 48, was freed on 17 December on the border between Mali and Algeria.

A nurse by training working for a security company at the time of the events, had been kidnapped in Libya on 3 November 2017 on his way to a power plant construction site around 1,000 km from Tripoli. He was then transferred to Mali.

His family expressed in a statement on Monday "its sincere gratitude to the Algerian government for its role in Gerco's release".

No details were released about the precise role of the Algerian authorities. The family also thanked the South African intelligence services and non-governmental organisations that acted as intermediaries.

Gerco Van Deventer, who suffered one of the longest periods of captivity for a hostage in Africa, was treated in a hospital in Algiers after his release. He has since returned home, according to those close to him.

"The immediate family have spent the last few days together. Gerco has received appropriate medical assistance and is in good health and spirits", the statement continued. The family said that a press conference would be organised in the coming weeks. Mr Van Deventer was kidnapped along with three Turkish engineers who were released in 2018.

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