UN flags for South Africans killed in Somali attack


The United Nations presented flags to the relatives of the two South Africans who were killed in a terrorist attack in Somalia.

This honour was bestowed on Morné Lötter (42) of Oudtshoorn and Alan Simpson (53) of Port Elizabeth – who both worked for Denel Mechem and were based in Mogadishu, Somalia – after it emerged they had shielded a female colleague during the attack.

“They found my dad and Morné [Lötter] and another man’s body on top of a woman,” Simpson’s daughter Tanya said on Tuesday, speaking from Port Elizabeth. “They wanted to protect her.”

Rita Muchucha, who died in the attack, was from Kenya and worked for the UN’s development programme. She was based in Mogadishu along with Lötter and Simpson.

In the fatal 19 June assault rebels detonated a car bomb near the entrance to the UN base on the outskirts of Mogadishu. The explosion ripped open the gates to the complex and the rebels stormed inside, shooting blindly.

Tanya says the family has found some consolation in the knowledge that her father had died trying to protect someone. “It means a lot to us.”

Denel Mechem general manager Ashley Williams attended both Lötter and Simpson’s funerals. He handed the UN flag to Simpson’s twin brother, Llewellyn, at the funeral. Llewellyn, however, decided it was more appropriate the flag be given to his brother’s three daughters.

“At the moment it’s still in a display cabinet in my dad’s home,” Tanya says.

Justin Brady, a representative of the UN’s humanitarian division, attended Lötter’s funeral on 26 June and presented the UN flag that was draped over the coffin to his widow, Yvette.

She said although his family miss him terribly they are proud of his brave actions. “It’s hard but I have to carry on for the sake of my children.”

She doesn’t believe Lötter would’ve survived the attack under any circumstances. “I don’t think they stood a chance of getting out of the camp alive.”

She doesn’t bear any grudges. “We’ve always lived by the principle that when your time is up it’s up. Morné’s time was clearly up.”

Yvette says it’s apparently the first time UN flags have been presented to people who weren’t officially UN staff members.

Lötter is survived by Yvette and their two children, Ulrich (15) and Irma (12). Simpson is survived by his estranged wife, Annatjie, and their three daughters, Annalie (26); Yolandie (24), who’s expecting his first grandchild; and Tanya (22). Muchucha is survived by her husband, Roy, and their five-year-old daughter, Sanaa.

- Marelize Potgieter

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