23 September 2013

Kenya: Radio Africa Staff Tell of Horror in Mall Attack

Fun-loving and ever smiling Ruhila Adatia-Sood was her usual bubbly self on Saturday morning eager to entertain a group of children in a cooking competition at the Westgate Mall.

She wore a loose, elegant black top and black trousers. On her neck dangled a blue-orange necklace. But Saturday suddenly turned tragic after a bunch of al Shabaab terror thugs stormed the upmarket mall and mowed down innocent shoppers in a orgy of violence never seen in Kenya before.

Adatia died of gunshot wounds in hospital hours later as a result of heavy bleeding. On the same morning, she had posted her pictures only hours before the killings on her Instagram account. The popular East FM presenter studied journalism at Rhodes University in South Africa and was the co-host of The Rush on Metro East with Gupz Saund.

In an interview in the Star last year, she was described by her sister as a go getter. She is survived by husband Ketan Sood, who she married in what was widely described as a three-day Swahili themed wedding. By the time of her death, she was pregnant with their first child.

Kamal Kaur is a presenter on East FM and a columnist with the Star

“I could only watch in horror my son missing a bullet by an inch as my daughter pushed him and herself down. I was trying to pull down the little boy who got shot instead of my son. Both my kids were hurt but are thankfully okay. I’m sorry I’m not taking any calls. It’s traumatic repeating the story over and over again.

We are safe and I’m humbled with your love and support. We had someone looking out for us today. My son was helping a little girl evacuate through Java’s service entrance despite being hurt on his leg. I’m so proud of him. He’s only eight. A good Samaritan had to carry my daughter out as her leg was bleeding heavily and there’s still a lot of shrapnel in both their legs.

I have lost a dear colleague who was pregnant. She just took my daughter’s baby cradle last week to start getting things together for the arrival of her baby.

I don’t know what to do or say. I don’t know who else we have lost today. I had no idea where my kids were but they were so sensible and kept telling everyone to pretend they were dead so they wouldn’t be shot at. “

Bernard Wambua is an office administrator staff with Radio Africa Group

“We arrived at Westgate at about 11am. We were all focused only on the kids cooking competition which was sponsored by Bidco Oil. I and a group of Radio Africa staff were about 50 in number. Some of the people in the group were parents who had brought their children to the competition.

Our team of staff had just finished arranging a long table where the children were to conduct the cooking. At about 11.30am, we heard loud gunshots. We were on the second floor near the parking lot. We thought it was thieves invading the building. But suddenly, we had gun shots right on the same floor from the direction of the entrance to the parking lot.

We all ducked under the table as two men whose heads were covered in a black headgear continued shooting. There was a woman who was commanding the group. She had a big black money bag around her waist. She used her hands to point at things. Then there would be a burst of gun fire. It was very terrifying. “

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