As luck would have it

2010-01-18 00:00

“I WOULD have been in the foyer or shower of a hotel that no longer exists today.”

These were the words of Theo Joubert (38) of Durbanville yesterday, following his return from Haiti on Saturday. He was there when a devastating earthquake hit the country on Tuesday.

According to Sapa, the Haitian government estimates the death toll to be about 50 000 people.

Joubert says he landed in Port-au-Prince at about 4 pm (Haitian time) after a journey of about 33 hours.

Joubert, co-owner of Kineto Mobile, a company supplying cellphone servi­ces to emerging markets, was there on a business visit.

“My partner in Haiti, Jean-Paul Faubert, came to pick me up. I wanted to go to the hotel for a rest as I usually do, but Jean-Paul said we had to go straight to a meeting.

“In my mind I was thinking I’d rather go to the hotel, but I agreed to go to the meeting.”

They were on their way to the meeting when the car suddenly “dropped” to the right.

“It felt as though a tyre had burst.” The car then “dropped” to the left, and when they saw buildings collapsing around them they realised it was an earthquake.

“The Lord protected me and made sure I was safe.”

The Montana Hotel, which he would have gone to had Faubert not insisted on going directly to a meeting, was destroyed in the earthquake.

Joubert could not initially make contact with his wife, Michell, who was at home with their two children, Danielle (2) and Annabelle (1).

“I spent some time in silence the next morning [Wednesday] and asked God for my wife to receive a message [that I am safe].

“In those ten minutes Jean-Paul received a call from my office [in South Africa].”

Michell Joubert was with the colleague who phoned Faubert and established that her husband was safe.

When Joubert and Faubert realised they were being hit by an earthquake, they went straight to Faubert’s family. Faubert’s wife and two children were unharmed.

However, many workers in a factory in which Faubert has interests lost their lives. This factory was one of the buildings they visited to try and help.

“One feels powerless. Wherever the buildings collapsed it was solid concrete. We didn’t have the equipment to lift it in order to help people that may have been trapped under there.”

Faubert arranged for Joubert to fly to Miami in a private plane.

In a statement yesterday, Archbi­shop Emeritus Desmond Tutu expressed his sympathies with the families of the victims of the disaster, saying he hoped “ordinary people” would have an opportunity to contribute to a “South African Haitian disaster fund”.

“The level of support from people across the globe is encouraging and shows our universal spirit of togetherness.”

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