Zuma needs to intervene in Hammerl case: DA


THE DA today (May 12) called on President Jacob Zuma to personally intervene to secure the release of South African journalist Anton Hammerl from Muammar Gaddafi’s Libyan regime.


Hammerl had been held for almost six weeks, after he was captured while covering the Libyan rebellion as a photojournalist, Democratic Alliance spokesman Stevens Mokgalapa said.


“It is unclear what conditions Mr Hammerl is being held in, or whether South African representatives have even been granted access to him, but the situation is deplorable, and the president has a responsibility to take personal charge of this matter,” he said.


Zuma enjoyed a close personal friendship with Gaddafi. It had been widely reported that Gaddafi provided US2 million to Zuma, prior to his election as president, to help fund his court cases.


When he visited Gaddafi last month, he publicly referred to him in endearing terms, as “the brother leader”.


“While we deplore the president’s association with this despot, circumstances are such that he should now be attempting to utilise this relationship to at least achieve something positive.” Zuma’s recent African Union “roadmap” was a clear sop to Gaddafi, he said.


“In fact, after Gaddafi gave his blessing to the plan in Tripoli, President Zuma did not even bother to travel to the rebel stronghold of Benghazi to present the plan to the opposition National Transitional Council.


“The president has done everything in his power to support Muammar Gaddafi and now he needs to tell Gaddafi to do something for South Africa — release Mr Hammerl immediately.


“South Africa cannot stand timidly by as one of our brave reporters is silenced and detained in secrecy by this despotic regime,” Mokgalapa said.


Earlier, Hammerl’s family pleaded for proof that he was still alive.


“Ater 38 days of not having had any contact with Anton – and in week where significant progress has been made on behalf of the other journalists Anton was captured with – we only have the word of the Libyan officials. Despite the assurances of the Libyan government that they have Anton in their custody, they have yet to produce our friend, colleague, husband, father, brother and son,” they said in a statement.


“If the South African officials have a concrete indication of his whereabouts we call on them to share this with his family – we absolutely need to know that he is well and that we can dare to hope he will come home.”


 


“For us to know this for sure we need proof, not only the word of the people holding him captive, but concrete proof in the form of a phone call or consular access. Where is the proof?”


 

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