SA officials ready to help in Nairobi

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IOL pic sep23 kenya mall siege security perimeter Reuters Kenyan police maintain a security perimeter near the Westgate Shopping Centre in Nairobi.

Johannesburg - South African officials were in touch with Kenyan authorities following an attack on a shopping mall in Nairobi, where almost 70 people, including a South African, were killed, a spokesman said on Monday.

“Our officials are on the ground and are in touch with local authorities. South Africans in the area should contact the South African mission on the ground if they require assistance,” said international relations spokesman Clayson Monyela.

Monyela said in a statement on Sunday that a South African had died during a shooting at the mall in Kenya.

“The South African government condemns the terrorist attack in Kenya in which a number of civilians, including a South African national, were killed,” he said.

The Star newspaper identified him on Monday as Capetonian businessman James Thomas, 57.

Thomas was in Kenya for business when gunmen, reportedly sparing Muslims, attacked the Westgate mall in Nairobi on Saturday.

Speaking on behalf of Thomas’s family, Dave Meldrum, a pastor from Mowbray, told the daily that Thomas had been shot in the attack.

He went to the mall on Saturday afternoon with colleagues.

“They had just come out of a supermarket when James wandered off from the group. When the attack happened, he had been separated from his colleagues.”

The family was notified of his death just after noon on Sunday. He had been shot once.

Thomas was in Kenya for work he did for EcoVentures International as a field associate. He was also the chairman of the Cape Town Pro Cantu Youth Choir.

The Agence France-Presse (AFP) news agency reported on Monday that around a dozen assailants were involved in the attack, with at least 68 people killed.

The Al-Qaeda-linked Al-Shabaab rebels, believed to be responsible for the attack, were still holding hostages inside the mall on Monday morning, according to AFP.

The Associated Press news agency reported that more than 175 people were also injured in the attack. - Sapa

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