South African Photographer Zanele Muholi | Reward for return of Stolen Work

By Melanie Nathan, May 15, 2012.

More than 20 external hard drives have been stolen from the home of famed South African filmmaker and photographer, Zanele Muholi, robbing her of a life’s work.

Photo by Melanie Nathan of Zanele Muholi capturing scenes outside the court room at the murder trial for Zoliswa, 2011 in Kayehlitsha

Muholi’s work which has been exhibited and shown around the world, and included the yet to be seen footage of many historic moments in South Africa, including not only the documentation of court cases involving hate crimes and LGBTQI life in South Africa, but also footage of international events for important historical archiving.

Zanele discovered the burglary after returning from a film festival in Korea where her award winning and acclaimed Documentary “Difficult Love” was shown at sold out screenings.

A devastated Zanele told me on the phone today: “I am in mourning. It is like a death for me – my life’s work is there. This is such important work. There is nothing else like it out there. It is years and years of history which I am archiving. It is is very important for our community.”

Zanele is pleading to the burglar/s to return her equipment with all the work intact. Arrangements can be made for the return of the work through communicating with me, Melanie Nathan, and I will keep all information received confidential.  My e-mail address for this is a safe private e-mail at

Zanele’s friends and supporters who value her work are putting together a sizable reward fund to pay for the return of the equipment, with all her footage intact. If anyone would like to contribute to this fund or has any information at all,  please contact me at All information will be confidential.

Zanele is not interested in any harm or action against the parties who took her work; all she wants is its return. She is adamant that she will not get involved in any lawsuits and nor any prosecution in exchange for the safe return of her work.

The hard drives were stolen from her Vredehoek flat, near Cape Town, South Africa.  If anyone has information also kindly contact Melanie Nathan at

To understand the extent and enormity of this theft it must be noted that Zanele’s extraordinary talent, dedication and relentless grip on her lenses, goes beyond mere art, but into the realm of activism that touches the most sensitive and pervasive issues of modern African society.

Zanele is willing to drop all charges as soon as she receives the return of the stolen items.  What Zanele has lost is a body of history that is irreplaceable.

READ MORE from the initial story at South African Lesbian Activist Photographer Zanele Muholi Loses Major Work in Burglary

Melanie Nathan
[email protected]

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  1. Outrageous Interview with South Africa ANC’s Patekile Holomisa Indicates Homophobia | O-blog-dee-o-blog-da - May 15, 2012

    […] REWARD OFFERED FOR RETURN ON STOLEN HARD DRIVES AND SD CARDS    BELONGING TO ZANELE MUHOLI CONTACT     More than 20 external hard drives have been stolen from the home of famed South African filmmaker and photographer, Zanele Muholi, robbing her of a life’s work. […]

  2. South African Photographer Zanele Muholi Revisited | O-blog-dee-o-blog-da - May 18, 2012

    […] BIOGRAPHY :-  Zanele Muholi was born in Umlazi, Durban, in 1972. She completed an Advanced Photography course at the Market Photo Workshop in Newtown and held her first solo exhibition at the Johannesburg Art Gallery in 2004. She has worked as a community relations officer for the Forum for the Empowerment of Women (FEW), a black lesbian organisation based in Gauteng, and as a photographer and reporter for Behind the Mask, an online magazine on lesbian and gay issues in Africa. Her work represents the black female body in a frank yet intimate way that challenges the history of the portrayal of black women’s bodies in documentary photography. Her solo exhibition Only half the picture, which showed at Michael Stevenson in March 2006, travelled to the Market Photo Workshop in Johannesburg and the Afrovibes Festival in Amsterdam. In 2008 she had a solo show at Le Case d’Arte, Milan, and in 2009 she exhibited alongside Lucy Azubuike at the CCA Lagos, Nigeria. She was the recipient of the 2005 Tollman Award for the Visual Arts, the first BHP Billiton/Wits University Visual Arts Fellowship in 2006, and was the 2009 Ida Ely Rubin Artist-in-Residence at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Full CV Zanele – Working with you and watching was and remains a great honor my sister… mel… […]

  3. So called Corrective Rape of Lesbians in South Africa should Embarrass President Zuma | O-blog-dee-o-blog-da - January 4, 2014

    […] South African Photographer Zanele Muholi | Reward for return of Stolen Work […]

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