South Africans in Kabul mourn colleagues

2014-01-20 00:00

SOUTH Africans who are working in Kabul, Afghanistan held a quiet memorial service for their friends who were among the dead after a bomb attack on a restaurant in the city on Friday night.

Twenty-one people died and six were injured when a suicide bomber set off his explosives in the entrance to the eatery as two other attackers started shooting indiscriminately at the patrons.

One of the women in the restaurant managed to send an SMS that they were being attacked just before she was shot and killed.

Although none of the victims was South African, many had been colleagues and good friends with the South African expats in Kabul.

“One thinks about them in your quiet time, but you don’t dwell on it, otherwise you won’t make it here,” one South African said yesterday.

Kabul’s citizens seem to follow the same strategy, as the streets were busy again yesterday.

The head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in Afghanistan and three United Nations employees were among the dead.

Several waiters were also killed, as was the owner of the restaurant, Kamal Hamade, who had according to the South Africans done everything in his power to make his premises as safe as possible because expat workers frequented his restaurant.

British newspapers yesterday wrote about a former British soldier who worked as a bodyguard in Kabul.

Simon “Si” Chase was guarding a female officer from the Danish police who was working for the European Union’s mission in Afghanistan.

When the shooting started, he blocked the bullets with his body — all to no avail as both Chase and his client were killed.

The guests were helpless in the attack, as all patrons had to hand their firearms in at reception.

The Taliban had accepted responsibility for the attack and said it was revenge for a military operation last week.

UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon said it was a terrible attack on civilians.

It is not known how many South Africans are working in Afghanistan, but the number is estimated at a few hundred.

Many of them were at home over December and several had just returned to Kabul when the attack took place.

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