Memorial to SA dead in Kabul ‘too small’

2012-09-25 00:00

SOUTH Africans in Afghanistan need a new memorial stone to record the names of citizens killed there, because the current one is almost full.

Otch Otto, who runs a water purification operation in Kabul, said the memorial is in the British cemetery. It had only recently been removed so that more names could be added, when eight South Africans were killed in a suicide bombing in Kabul last week.

“We had fallen behind on the memorial, and tragically we are suddenly very far behind,” he said.

“We need to record the names of 24 South Africans and there just isn’t enough space.”

Meanwhile, relatives of the eight killed last week will have to wait up to 10 to 14 working days before the remains of their loved ones are returned home.

Nelson Kgwete, spokesperson for the Department of International Affairs and Co-operation, said that the aviation company that employed the eight, ACS/Balmoral, had undertaken to repatriate the remains.

“We can offer no new information on this issue. ACS/Balmoral as an entity has undertaken to complete the operation of returning the mortal remains and they are leading the efforts.”

He added that not having a presence in Afghanistan had hampered the government’s efforts. “We have aided them [ACS/Balmoral] as and where we could with consular assistance, but you must understand that it is very difficult for us to be hands-on on this as we have no physical presence in Afghanistan. Our closest consulate is in Pakistan,” said Kgwete. “One must understand that waiting this long for the remains to be returned is completely normal and is nothing out of the ordinary.”

Chantal van Wyk, a spokesperson for ACS/Balmoral, said the process of returning the remains had been drawn out. “We have several administrative hurdles that have to be overcome so we are projecting that the remains of those killed will take 10 to 14 working days. Unfortunately this is very drawn out but it is because of circumstances beyond our control,” she said.

Darryl Wood, partner of Brandon Booth, of Balgowan, who was killed in the blast, could not be reached for comment yesterday.

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