Kabul: Another rough day awaits

2012-09-20 00:00

PORT ELIZABETH — “If I did not believe in God before, then I do now.”

These were the sentiments of a sister of pilot Francois Bennet-Horak (26), who escaped death on Tuesday.

He was travelling behind the bus in which eight other South Africans, who worked for ACS/Balmoral, died after a suicide bomb attack in Kabul.

Bennett-Horak, who also works for the same firm, called his family in the early hours to let them know he was safe.

He received his training as a pilot at 43 Air School in Port Alfred, but did not want to comment from Afghanistan yesterday.

His sister, Helen (21), a BA student at Stellenbosch University, told sister newspaper Die Burger that her brother’s survival was “bitter-sweet”.

She believed God had saved Francois, but her family felt guilty about those who had lost brothers, fathers or sons.

“My brother was very shocked. He just said we would hear stuff on the news, but he was ok. He was not even allowed to give us any names of the victims.”

Helen said Francois had told them before that there was an explosion almost every week in Kabul, but they had never imagined it could be so close.

Otch Otto, another South African who also works in Kabul, said South Africans in Afghanistan would remain there regardless. However, they would “read the signs” and tighten up on security precautions.

Reaction continued to pour in yesterday, with the ANC describing the attack as “an unwarranted waste of life”.

“These wanton and indiscriminate killings are not helping to defuse tensions in Afghanistan,” said spokesperson Jackson Mthembu.

The ANC urged all parties in Afghanistan to “give peace a chance”, he said.

Trade union federation Cosatu also condemned the attack, saying there was no justification for the random killing of the South Africans and others — whatever the complaint may have been.

“We demand that the perpetrators be brought to justice,” Cosatu said in a statement.

Airline Pilots’ Association president Captain Fanie Coetzee said the bomb had been a deliberate attack on innocent civilians.

“This abhorrent and senseless tragedy is viewed by the association as not only a direct threat to civil society and global peace, but a blatant and deliberate attack on innocent civilians,” Coetzee said.

In its reaction, the African Christian Democratic Party said: “We strongly condemn the practice of suicide bombing and those responsible for it.

“There can be no justification for so heartlessly and cruelly taking these and other lives.”

Meanwhile, the department of international relations and co-operation last night released the names of all the South Africans killed.

They are:

• Christian Johannes Justus Pretorius (30) from Pretoria, Gauteng

• Fraser Angus Carey (31) from Johannesburg, Gauteng

• Brandon Quinn Booth (47) from Balgowan, KwaZulu-Natal

• Johan Abraham van Huyssteen (31) from Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape

• Johan Frederick Bouchaud (30) from Johannesburg, Gauteng

• Johannes Judenis Humphries (65) from Centurion, Gauteng

• Steven Leong (31) from Johannesburg, Gauteng

• Jenny Margaret Ayris (46) from Scotland, the United Kingdom

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