South Africans mourn slain compatriots

2014-12-12 18:33
Werner Groenewald with his wife Hannelie (File, Nelius Rademan, Beeld)

Werner Groenewald with his wife Hannelie (File, Nelius Rademan, Beeld)

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Johannesburg - Mourners in Bloemfontein and Pretoria prayed and sang hymns on Friday during separate funeral services for four South Africans who were killed in conflicts in Yemen and Afghanistan.

Family and friends in Bloemfontein paid tribute to Pierre Korkie, a teacher who was killed in Yemen on 6 December during a US raid on al-Qaeda militants who were holding Korkie and American hostage Luke Somers. American officials say militants killed both men.

Uniformed pupils he had taught escorted his flower-laden coffin.

"If I had to take one message from the proceedings, it was forgiveness," said Ali Sayed, spokesperson for Gift of the Givers.

US Ambassador Patrick Gaspard attended the service after Korkie's widow, Yolande, invited him, the embassy said.

In a separate service at around the same time in the Pretoria, mourners gathered to honour Werner Groenewald, an aid worker, and his teenage children, Jean-Pierre and Rode.

They were killed on 29 November when Taliban militants stormed the office of a foreign aid group in the Afghan capital, Kabul, where the family also lived.

Groenewald's wife, Hannelie, a doctor who was not at the office when the attack occurred, was composed during the ceremony.

"She is incredibly strong," said Teresa Conradie, the family's attorney.

In a symbolic gesture, a pastor lit three candles - one for each slain member of the Groenewald family - and blew them out.

The Groenewalds were buried at the same church where Werner Groenewald worked as a pastor before leaving for Afghanistan in 2002.

Groenewald, 46, led the local activities of Partnership in Academics and Development, which has offices in Redlands, California.

Read more on:    al-qaeda  |  gift of the givers  |  taliban  |  pierre korkie  |  pretoria  |  bloemfontein  |  abductions  |  security

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