Cii News, Pic: Xinhua | 20 September 2012
Moulana Ebrahim Bham, the secretary-general of the Jamiatul Ulama South Africa (Council of Muslim Theologians), speaking to The New Age newspaper said regarding Tuesday’s killing of South Africans in Kabul that, “Our hearts are with the families and friends of all those who have lost their lives in this attack.”
The eight have been named by the SA Department of International Relations and Cooperation as Christian Johannes Justus Pretorius (30), Fraser Angus Carey (31), Brandon Quinn Booth (47), Johan Abraham Van Huyssteen (31), Johan Frederick Bouchaud (30), Johannes Judenis Humphries (65) and Steven Leong (31). Four other people including a British women, named by the South African government were killed in the attack that has set South African and international media into hyper-drive. Rightly so, death is not e taken lightly.
The group was targeted by a lone human bomber, a female, reportedly associated to the Hezbi-Islami armed group under the control of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. The group is not known for such attacks but has issued a statement saying it was a response to the anti-Islam film, Innocence of Muslims, made in the US.
The African National Congress has called it ‘an unwarranted waste of life’ and that these wanton and indiscriminate killings are not helping to defuse tensions in Afghanistan.
The question however must be asked. What were these eight men doing in the war riddled country that Afghanistan is? Were they on a holiday tour? Were they working? What kind of work were they doing there? And why did they become the targets of a group that does not usually unleash human bombers?
Two media reports have emerged, thus far, given some clarity into the operational business of the deceased’s employer, ACS Balmoral.
According to EWN, the company, ACS Balmoral, was often contracted by the American embassy to transport American diplomats.
The New Age reported that generally South Africans working in Afghanistan have been called cannon fodder and cheap labour “doing the dirty work” of Western forces at war with the Taliban.
ACS Balmoral was established as an on demand US licensed Air taxi that exclusively operated in remote and troubled areas in support of government, relief and development contracts.
“No American or Brit will be prepared to do the work for the money we are getting,” the publication quoted a South African war veteran who returned a month ago from yet another stint in the volatile territories of Kabul, Kandahar and Herat.
Foreigners are largely contracted to the Nato-linked International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) to provide security and transport. Contracted pilots are known to earn in the region of R7000 a day for their services.
The company was quick to deny any mercenary activities. BalmOral Central Contracts/ACS representative Candice Teuba told the New Age, “There’s no truth in allegations that the company is involved in mercenary recruitment.”
But any association with the US and its alliance responsible for the ten year invasion of a country to remove men whom they once militarily supported is highly dangerous at the least bordering on the brink of suicide. Wrecked by decades of war, mostly at the behest of international powers, all foreigners particularly of Caucasian descent, are viewed with an air of skepticism in Afghanistan.
And when you are known to be a transporter of US diplomats, it becomes all the more easier to find yourself in the cross-hairs of one of the groups determined to see a withdrawal of invading forces and a return to a situation where Afghans can determine their own internal affairs.
Lest we forget, western forces indiscriminately killed eight women and a girl who were out collecting wood just three days before the South Africans, who so unnecessarily lost their lives in country known to be the graveyard of superpowers.
Nobody knows the name of the Afghan women and girl.
Tags: ACS Balmoral, Hezbi-islami, kabul, South Africa