‘Prayer is carrying me’

2014-12-02 00:00

“I’M sorry I couldn’t go with them, but God obviously has other plans for me.”

This was the reaction of Hannelie Groenewald, whose husband Werner and children Rodé (15) and Jean-Pierre (JP, 17) were shot dead in a Taliban attack in Kabul, Afghanistan on Saturday.

She said yesterday in a telephonic interview with sister paper Beeld: “I have peace in my heart. I know where my ­husband and children are.

“It is hard, but there is so much to do here. Prayers are being said for me all over the world, so prayer is carrying me. I’m okay.”

She said she is staying with friends in the Afghan capital and hopes to ­return to South Africa in a “week or so” for the funeral.

“My life revolved around my ­husband and children and now they’re gone. It’s okay in the day while I’m busy, but nights are hard when I realise I alone survived.”

Hannelie, a doctor, and Werner had lived in Kabul for years working for NGO Partnership in Academics and Development (Pad).

Three Taliban members attacked the double-storey house where they lived, and where the Pad office was also located, on Saturday afternoon.

The organisation claimed it attacked the family for doing undercover ­Christian missionary work.

Hannelie was at work at a hospital, and heard about the attack when she was on her way home at about 4 pm.

“The attack was over when I got there. The same hospital is helping to prepare their remains for repatriation, while Pad will arrange the repatriation,” she said.

The children were shot in the head, and Werner was also shot. Afghan police shot two of the attackers before the third detonated a bomb he had strapped to himself.

An Afghan Pad staffer was also killed and two others critically wounded.

The chief of the Afghan police force resigned in the wake of the attack, which came after several others on Westerners in the city. He had also previously been a target of the Taliban.

“I don’t know what I am going to do next or if I will return to Kabul,” ­Hannelie said. “For now, I’ll return to South Africa until I know what the Lord wants me to do next.”

She said arranging to travel home is tricky because her credit card and ­personal documents were destroyed in the blast.

“Donations are pouring in from all over and I’m not worried. The British embassy is issuing me an emergency travel document.”

The Groenewalds had been a lifeline for two South Africans imprisoned in Kabul, before they were freed, and ­Hannelie is still worried about an ­Australian prisoner. “Who is going to look after him now?”

International Relations spokesperson Nelson Kgwete confirmed yesterday that the department has sent copies of the family’s identity documents to Kabul to facilitate their repatriation.

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