Govt still not sure about Hammerl

2011-05-18 22:31

Pretoria - South Africa has "no confirmation" where news photographer Anton Hammerl is or if he is in fact alive, the international relations and co-operation department said on Wednesday.

Spokesperson Clayson Monyela also denied a recent media report quoting International Relations and Co-operation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane as saying that the South African government had proof that Hammerl was alive.

"That issue of the minister's quote was not captured correctly," he said.

This follows reports that US reporters Clare Gillis and James Foley, Spanish photographer Manu Brabo and British journalist Nigel Chandler were freed on Wednesday.

The Associated Press news agency reported that Libyan government spokesperson Moussa Ibrahim had said Hammerl was not in Libyan government custody.

"What I know is that they haven't been able to locate him", Ibrahim was quoted as saying.

"If it was the case - that we found him - he would be released," he said.

Monyela said the South African government had "no confirmation" of where Hammerl was or if he was alive and had always been working "on the assumption that he is alive".

He said South African diplomatic staff had been sent back to the Libyan capital city of Tripoli "to ascertain his whereabouts and get access".

He said he did not want to jeopardise any negotiations that were taking place.

War situation

"We are very careful with what we can say. You must also realise we are dealing with a war situation there."

Hammerl was apparently seized near the town of Brega on April 5 where Gillis, Foley and Brabu were also seized.

Nkoana-Mashabane was due to hold a meeting with the South African National Editors Forum (Sanef) on Tuesday morning, but this had been cancelled.

Sanef chairperson Mondli Makhanya said he hoped the meeting would be held within the next few days, where it was hoped more information could be obtained.

Speaking from London, Hammerl's wife Penny Sukhraj, said she was pleased about the release of the four journalists, but that "we are understandably devastated that there is still a question mark over Anton".

"The reports from the Libyan authorities regarding Anton over the past 24 hours have been contradictory and we call on the South African and Austrian governments to please do everything they can to confirm Anton’s status urgently.

"Our lives have come to a standstill and we desperately hope that the released journalists will be able to provide some insight into Anton’s situation. At this point they seem to be our best hope," she said.

  • chewthefat - 2011-05-18 23:57

    "That issue of the minister's quote was not captured correctly, he said." Of course, but if there is a favourable outcome to this situation which we all hope and pray for just watch how quick the government will engineer to take the credit.

      Sam - 2011-05-19 05:05

      This guy took it upon himself to go and take pictures in a warzone! so its not the governments fault he got lost. The only reason the media have their panties in a knot is because he is one of them otherwise they would not care rocks. I dont see articles on a daily basis about the two South Africans who were kidnapped by Somali pirates a couple of months ago and who are still in captivity!!

  • Marcell - 2011-05-19 01:15

    The SA government soes not care! The elections are over! Now it is back to everyone for themselves. Sad but true! The feeding frenzy continue.

      Michael - 2011-05-19 06:37

      Should the government prevent people to venture warzones? If it does you will cry it's interfering. If things don't go the journalist way, everything must stop and government must go hunting for the capturers! What do you really want, Marcell? If you take the risk beware of the consequences.

  • Ixian - 2011-05-19 06:37

    What does the missing photographer have to do with our government? Do we always expect the government to wipe our backsides in every thing we do. The photographer is from a free country who chose to visit a war zone, that is what he does for a living, a brave man who has gone missing.The government has used it's diplomatic channels to inquire about his status. Do you expect them to send in a "James Bond" type agent to track him down? We are now criticizing our government for not doing what exactly?

      Julius - 2011-05-19 07:11

      Moron, read your passport's front pages

      Fred - 2011-05-19 10:03

      At the same time this guy went missing a black South African serial killer was arrested in the US, the embassy offered him all the help he needed, if you're willing to help a murderer you should be willing to help a law-abiding, tax paying citizen, shouldn't you?

      Ixian - 2011-05-19 10:49

      @ Fred - Its called Consular Services. Every South African is entitled to this service regardless of skin colour. By the way he turned down all offers of assistance if I recall. @ Julius - before calling other people Morons you should take a closer look at yourself.

  • Julius - 2011-05-19 07:10

    Don't bother Foreign Affairs , he is only one of those hated people - a white male. Why did Zuma not raise the issue when he was there.

      Sam - 2011-05-19 07:42

      Stop talking out of your anus!!

      Tbla - 2011-05-19 09:16

      It can only be you Julius. You eat,sleep,think and wake up racism.

      Ixian - 2011-05-19 10:51

      A sorry site, narrow minded white racist that give all other white people a bad rap.

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