SA man tells of 'scary' Mali coup

2012-03-26 11:17
Pietermaritzburg - KwaZulu-Natal electrician Warren Blomeyer is still stranded in Mali after last week’s coup, but has moved to a safer area and hopes to return home on Tuesday.

Over the weekend he moved from the capital Bamako to Markala, four hours away, where he does not have to endure the sound of gunfire.

The young electrician had been preparing to board a flight home when his Kenyan Airways flight was grounded last Tuesday.

After staying in the Olympe International Hotel in Bamako, he headed back to Markala, away from the heart of the fighting.

Blomeyer’s company has been contracted to work on an Illovo Sugar project in Mali’s Ségou region, which will see a cane estate established and a mill, ethanol plant and power generation facility built.

Scary

He said it was good to be back in the peace and quiet of Markala, after enduring the gunfire in the capital.

“It was scary, especially as I didn’t know what was going on.

“Now I’ve just got to wait for the airports to open again.

“The authorities are saying that they’re going to open everything on Tuesday, but we’ll just have to wait and see.”

Blomeyer, who has been keeping in close contact with his family throughout his ordeal, is one of several South Africans stranded in Mali.

In addition to the embassy staff, three officials attending an African Union meeting are known to be in the West African country.

A spokesperson for the department of international relations, Clayson Monyela, said the department had no idea how many South Africans had been affected by the coup.

Embassy

“Nobody can go into Mali, the airports are closed and logically it means that there are South Africans stuck there, including our officials who are attached to the embassy,” he said.

"Since all of the [embassy] officials are stuck indoors because of what is happening, there is no way to tell how many people are there at the moment."

There would be more clarity on the number of stranded citizens once communication channels into the country were opened.

Monyela had not heard of any plans to open the airport on Tuesday, but said the department would continue to monitor developments in Mali.

Meanwhile news reports said that the Kenyan and Zimbabwean foreign ministers were evacuated from Mali where they were stranded by the military coup.

The ministers and other government officials were flown to Lagos on a chartered flight late on Saturday after the coup leader said he would guarantee their safe return home.

- Are you there or do you know someone who is affected? Send us your stories and photos.
Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  mali  |  west africa  |  coup

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