Nairobi - A taxi driver’s shopping tip probably saved the life of a Durban-born man who gave Nairobi’s Westgate mall a miss at the last minute.
Imraan Karrim, 30, of Johannesburg, was four days into his first visit to the Kenyan capital and was looking for a place to shop
Karrim, who was implementing a new accounting system at a South African company’s Kenyan office, later heard bullets whizzing past in the street below his hotel room, just a block away from the centre.
“There were helicopters flying low over the area. I could see military vehicles and ambulances coming and going. I felt very unsafe,” he said.
After informing his boss of the situation, his company booked him on the 8.30pm flight out of Nairobi.
Speaking to the Daily News on Sunday, Karrim said he had opted to go to the nearby Village Market Mall after taking the advice of his taxi driver.
“I was going to stop at Westgate because I needed some items like soaps and shampoo, but was told by the taxi driver that Village has a big supermarket as well.”
He said he had not visited Village Market Mall before because of his busy work schedule, but had been to Westgate, about 7km away, attracted to it by its “vibe” and excellent places to eat.
Karrim was eating at Village Market Mall when news of the attack began filtering through. The owner closed the restaurant.
His hotel, Sankara Nairobi, was a block away from Westgate mall.
Karrim said that he could hear gunshots on the streets below from his 5th floor room.
After being told he would be flying out that night, he said he frantically started packing.
Driving to the airport was nerve-wracking, he said, and the taxi driver kept getting calls from his family asking if he was fine. Karrim said the mood on the streets was sombre and there were hardly any cars on the road.
“Words could not describe my relief when I finally received my boarding pass and I was through security.”