Stephen McGown, the South African man who was held captive for almost six years in Mali, with his wife Catherine at Gift of the Givers in Johannesburg. Photo: Jonisayi Maromo / ANA

Johannesburg – Stephen McGown, the South African man who was held captive for almost six years in Mali, on Thursday said he doesn't harbour hatred for the al-Qaeda militants who detained him in West Africa.

"Six years is a long time, a lot has changed. I don't want to harbour resentment. To forgive or forget, I don't know if it's more about forgetting and just putting it behind me and moving than actually forgiving," Stephen said while addressing journalists at the Gift of the Givers offices in Johannesburg.

"I can be honest, I am angry about my mother [who passed away]. I am angry that I was not released prior to it [the death]. They were aware that my mother was sick. They were aware of it. To miss my mother by about two months, I'm angry about that. But this must go, I must let go of this."

Flanked by his wife Catherine McGown and his father Malcolm McGown, Stephen said he would forgive the terror group.

"I will forgive. I will move on. You get one life so I don't wanna carry burdens which hold me back. So it's okay. It's alright. It's gonna be."

Stephen was released on July 25, and was reunited with his family in Johannesburg.

Stephen McGown, the South African man who was held captive for almost six years in Mali, with his wife Catherine at Gift of the Givers in Johannesburg. Photo: Jonisayi Maromo / ANA

Beverly McGown passed away in May after making numerous appeals for her son's release.

Stephen was travelling through Mali on a trans-Africa journey when he was one of three tourists abducted by gunmen from a restaurant in Timbuktu.

The attackers shot and killed a fourth tourist, a German, when he refused to climb into their truck.