Doctor still in Afghanistan after family killed

December 2, 2014 GMT

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — The South African doctor whose family was killed in a Taliban attack in Kabul is still working at an Afghanistan hospital.

Hannelie Groenewald was quoted in a South African newspaper Tuesday that she believes there is a reason her life was spared.

Groenewald’s husband Werner, 46, her son, Jean-Pierre, 17, and daughter, Rode, 15, were killed when three Taliban militants stormed the office of a foreign aid group on Saturday, where the family also lived. The teenagers were shot in the head, according to the newspaper report.

“I am OK,” Groenewald told the Afrikaans daily newspaper, Beeld. “I have peace in my heart. I know where my husband and children are.”

Groenewald’s husband was a former pastor who worked as national director of Partnership in Academics and Development, a foreign aid group with offices in Redlands, California. Hannelie Groenewald still works as a doctor at a local clinic.

The family moved to Kabul in 2002, where the teenagers attended an international school in the city.

“They were a very ordinary South African family but very committed to the people of Afghanistan,” said Teresa Conradie, the family’s attorney in Pretoria.

Two Afghan citizens were also killed in the attack. One of the attackers exploded a suicide vest and the two others were killed in a gunfight with police. At least one of the militants wore a police uniform, authorities said.

Groenewald said all the family’s personal documents were destroyed in the ensuing fire. PAD has since closed its offices in Afghanistan.

South African authorities are assisting Groenewald with an emergency passport and returning her family’s bodies to South Africa, where they will be buried. It is still unclear when Groenewald will return to South Africa, said Conradie.


AP writer John Rogers contributed to this report from Los Angeles.