Anton Hammerl in Brega © Unai Aranzadi, 2011.
In an open letter to South African President Jacob Zuma, who is scheduled to meet with Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi in Tripoli on Monday 30 May, the family of the dead South African photojournalist Anton Hammerl has called for help locating his remains.
Hammerl went missing in Libya on 05 April. While Libyan authorities assured for several weeks the South African government that they had detained the photojournalist, it was revealed, last week, that Hammerl had been shot dead on that day.
Now, his family is calling on President Zuma, "as a family man and father, as a South African, but mostly as president of this 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."
In its open letter, Hammerl's family adds that "from the moment Anton disappeared in Libya, we have lived an unimaginable nightmare, which became a living one when we heard last Thursday that he had been killed."
President Zuma is set to meet Gaddafi in his capacity as a member of the African Union High Level Panel for the resolution of the conflict in Libya.
Here is Hammerl's family open letter:
OPEN LETTER TO PRESIDENT ZUMA FROM ANTON HAMMERL's FAMILY
26 May 2011
Dear Mr President,
We come to you in this, the darkest hour of our lives.
For 45 days we campaigned to have Anton Hammerl found, freed and brought home from Libya.
In all those weeks we did not imagine that we would now be campaigning to have the remains of our son, our husband, our brother and our father brought home.
All we, as his family, have at our disposal to negotiate with Libya is you and the South African government. Anton was not backed by a big media corporation.
Today we beseech you, as a family man and father, as a South African, but mostly as president of this 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.
We ask you to please be our hearts and to be our voices in appealing to Libya for the whereabouts of Anton's remains.
It is imperative for us that he is not failed on this level.
We ourselves cannot rest until Anton is given a proper burial in South Africa at a site that will become a place where his children, Aurora (11), Neo (7) and Hiro (15 weeks) can come to pay tribute to their father.
Anton was a proud South African and a photographer with decades of experience covering South Africa. He was a true ambassador for the country in the journalistic profession.
From the moment Anton disappeared in Libya, we have lived an unimaginable nightmare, which became a living one when we heard last Thursday that he had been killed.
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.
We ask you to please use your influence on the continent to help finally bring Anton home to us, so that he can rest under the South African skies that he loved so much.
Our nightmare cannot end until he is home.
Penny (wife), Freda (mother) Ludwig (father) Alex (brother) Aurora (daughter), Neo (son) and Hiro (son)
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