During the initial kidnapping, a German man was shot when he refused to cooperate. A Swedish and Dutch national were taken captive along with McGown.
South Africa's minister for worldwide relations, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, said the government does not pay ransoms in hostage situations.
Catherine McGowan says she never lost hope that her husband would come home.
Cape Town - South African hostage Stephen McGowan, kidnapped in Mali in 2011, has been released and is back home, Minister of International Relations and Co-operation Maite Nkoana-Mashabane announced on Thursday.
As for the other former hostages, Gustafsson was released in June while Rijke was freed in April 2015 during a raid by French special forces. She noted that sadly McGown's mother had passed away in May 2017 after a long illness and was not there to welcome him home, going on to offer McGown their condolences for his loss.
Another video featuring McGowan was released in June by a recently-formed coalition, known as the Group to Support Islam and Muslims, which includes several Al-Qaeda splinters and local militant groups.
Nkoana-Mashabane said no ransom was paid for McGown's release and that it had been secured with the help of "cooperation and collaboration" from the family.
Imtiaz Sooliman, chairman of the Gift of the Givers charity which was previously involved in negotiating for McGown's release, had said at the time of his mother's death that Stephen's absence was beginning to "take its toll".
Nkoana-Mashabane also said the government was "appalled" by Al-Qaeda kidnapping innocent citizens.
Times Live quotes McGown's cousin, Dawn Daniels, as saying it was his father's persistence that finally freed the hostage.
His father, Malcolm McGowan, said: "It was a big surprise when Stephen walked through the door. But it didn't quite work out the way we wanted", Malcolm McGown said.