News24

No word on where journo detained

2010-06-01 14:58

Cape Town - Colleagues of South African journalist Gadijah Davids were waiting for word on where she was being kept on Tuesday, after she was detained by Israeli forces who intercepted the Gaza-bound aid ferry she was travelling on.

"We don't know about her whereabouts. The Department of International Relations contacted her mom to say she is alive, but we have had no indication of her whereabouts," Cape-based Radio786 programme director Mansur Modak told Sapa.

Davids was one of over 600 people, including members of parliament, reporters, entertainers and human rights activists, who travelled with the six-ship flotilla organised by a coalition in support of Gaza.

After refusing to comply with Israeli rules that the ships be searched and cleared by them, the Israeli Defence Force rapelled onto her ship, the Mavi Marmara. A clash between those on board and soldiers left nine civilians dead and five soldiers injured, according to the Israeli government.

International criticism

In the face of international criticism, the Israeli government has said its soldiers were attacked and it would not apologise.

It claims the soldiers acted in self defence after being struck with knives and sticks. It claims two guns were retrieved in the aftermath of the clash. However, commentary on Tuesday has asked why the soldiers did not use tear gas or rubber bullets to clear the decks before landing.

Davids's mother Magboeba said: "The mere fact that she is alive is quite consoling for us."

She was proud of her daughter, who had followed issues in Gaza and had wanted to spend time reporting on the experiences of people there. She had known of the possibilities when she left and merely wanted to deliver medical supplies, and was not interested in anything military.

"She will come back a stronger person. It was a maiden experience for her on so many levels - it was the first time she left home, first big story, and now she has an international scoop - we are very proud of her."

Will be flown home


Radio786 station manager Rushni Alli, who sent her on the assignment, said the last communication they had from her was on Sunday night. They had been inundated with calls from local and international media since the story broke and at one point on Tuesday their website crashed.

Daniel Seaman, spokesperson for the Israeli government, told Sapa the people who were not part of the physical confrontation with the soldiers who boarded the vessels would be put on a plane and sent home. Those who were would be charged in Israel.

According to news reports people were being sent home, but some were refusing to give their names.

The Israeli government, in response to mortar attacks from Gaza, imposed a blockade on supplies to the contested territory and insisted on searching consignments bound for the area. Humanitarian groups and activists believe it was leading to hardship for people living there and was illegally imposing group punishment on inhabitants.