South Africans describe 'eerie, ominous feeling' in Manchester after attack

2017-05-23 20:35
(Martin Rickett, AP)

(Martin Rickett, AP)

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Cape Town – South Africans living in Manchester have described the shock and disbelief that has gripped the city following the deadly bombing at a concert on Monday evening.

Cape Town-born Josh Toy, who has been living in Manchester for three years, said residents were avoiding the city centre following the attack, which took place after an Ariana Grande concert at Manchester Arena.

“It's quite an eerie, ominous feeling in Manchester today. I’ve never seen so many cops on the streets before, even on New Year’s there aren't so many police officers,” Toy told News24.  

“Police carrying automatic rifles is very uncommon over here.”

Also read: Screaming children, frantic parents after deadly Manchester Arena blast

Toy manages a nightclub roughly 20m from where the bombing occurred. He said taxi drivers switched off their meters following the bombing to ensure the area was quickly evacuated.

“Police have a large area on lock-down with road closures, closing a nearby train station, and even asking us to close one of our northern quarter bars today,” he said.

Toy said police have been deployed to schools because children were targeted in the attack.

“There's a weird, sad sort of buzz today in the city,” he said.

Terri Oldacre, a teacher assistant originally from Johannesburg, said there was a sense of disbelief at the school where she teaches.

“As news has trickled in through the day that one of the fatalities was an eight-year-old girl, there have been tears, anger and sadness,” she said.

“We feel there must be pure evil around to focus such an attack on a venue full of children.”

Candy Lyn de Laborde, originally from Hilton in KwaZulu-Natal, said she woke up to the news of the bombing.

“My friends in South Africa messaged me throughout the night to ask me if I was alright and what happened. I woke up to the news of the horrific bombing,” she said.

Also read: Ariana Grande: Long awaited concert turns into night of horror

De Laborde works in a law firm in central Manchester close to where the bombing occurred.

“Arriving at work, everyone was ... shocked and quiet. Normally when I walk towards my work people are laughing, but today people were walking with their heads down, looking at their cellphones, sombre,” she said.

She said the terrorist attack had brought the residents of Manchester together.

“One thing I’ve learnt is that a tragedy like this brings strangers together. People come together to fight against the distress,” she said.

The terrorist group ISIS have since claimed responsibility for the attack, but De Laborde doubts if the organisation was involved.

“You don’t really know with ISIS. Immediately when something happens, ISIS claims responsibility but we can’t be sure,” she said.

Manchester police confirmed that 22 people, mostly children, died in the incident and 59 were injured. One suspect has been arrested in connection with the bombing.

A night vigil is planned in Manchester's Albert square on Tuesday evening.

The department of international affairs has not yet verified whether any South Africans were injured in the incident. The department said it was in constant communication with the embassy in London to provide assistance to any South Africans affected.


Read more on:    security

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