Pretoria – President Jacob Zuma’s office has confirmed receipt of a letter from the family of slain photographer Anton Hammerl in which they plead with Zuma to help them find his body.
The Presidency said Zuma understands the pain and difficulty that the family is going through, as every family wishes to know where their next of kin are buried.
While not wishing to raise undue expectations, the Presidency said Zuma will do whatever is possible to assist while in Tripoli.
“The President has also received information from journalists indicating the possible location of the remains in Libya, for him to share with the Libyan authorities next week,” the Presidency said on Thursday.
Zuma is to visit Libya on Monday and there is a strong chance that he will discuss the return of Hammerl’s body with Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi.
Zuma’s spokesperson Zizi Kodwa said in a statement on Wednesday he will be there in his capacity as a member of the African Union high level panel for the resolution of the conflict in Libya.
Hammerl, a freelance photographer, disappeared near Brega, Libya, on April 5 after being held captive with three other journalists who had been working with him.
In searching for Hammerl, the SA government was assured by the Libyan authorities that he was safe, but it was only when the three journalists were released across the border that it emerged Hammerl had been shot and left for dead.
The family yesterday wrote an emotive letter to Zuma, pleading with him to help them find his body, adding that they have been living an unimaginable nightmare since his disappearance.
“Today we beseech you, as a family man and father, as a South African, but mostly as president of a country, which has good relations with Libya and which is influential on the continent, to help locate Anton’s remains and have them returned home so that he can be put to rest.
“…Our lives have come to a standstill and even though we now have some idea of what happened to Anton on April 5, our hearts and minds are still in Libya every waking moment, trying to reach out to our son, our husband, our brother and our father, not knowing where his body is,” reads the letter.
The family said they cannot rest until Anton is given a proper burial in South Africa at a site that will become a place where his children can pay tribute to their father. – BuaNews