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)
UPDATE: At 21:49 on Thursday, the @SAPresident Twitter account tweeted: “I have received a letter from the family of former photographer Anton Hammerl who was killed in the line of duty.” Two more tweets followed in quick succession: “We extend our heartfelt condolences to Mr Hammerl’s wife Penny Sukhraj & children Aurora, Neo & Hiro as well as his parents Freda & Ludwig.” and “We will do whatever is possible to assist while in Tripoli. The Department of International Relations also continues to work on this matter.” At least now we know that Zuma will raise the matter with Gaddafi.
Photo: Penny Sukhraj and Anton Hammerl.
Are You A South AfriCAN or a South AfriCAN'T?
Maverick Insider is more than a reader revenue scheme. While not quite a "state of mind", it is a mindset: it's about believing that independent journalism makes a genuine difference to our country and it's about having the will to support that endeavour.
From the #GuptaLeaks into State Capture to the Scorpio exposés into SARS, Daily Maverick investigations have made an enormous impact on South Africa and it's political landscape. As we enter an election year, our mission to Defend Truth has never been more important. A free press is one of the essential lines of defence against election fraud; without it, national polls can turn very nasty, very quickly as we have seen recently in the Congo.
If you would like a practical, tangible way to make a difference in South Africa consider signing up to become a Maverick Insider. You choose how much to contribute and how often (monthly or annually) and in exchange, you will receive a host of awesome benefits. The greatest benefit of all (besides inner peace)? Making a real difference to a country that needs your support.
Excalibur and the Sword in the Stone are two separate swords.