Memorials to be held for SA victims killed in war-torn countries

Pierre Korkie was killed in Yemen while Werner Groenewald & his children died in Afghanistan.

School learners carrying Pierre Korkie's coffin ahead of his memorial in Bloemfontein on 12 December 2014. Picture: Vumani Mkhize/EWN

BLOEMFONTEIN - There are two memorial services planned for South African victims who were killed in war-torn countries today.

A tribute for Pierre Korkie has been planned in Bloemfontein while the other in Pretoria is for a South African family who were killed in Afghanistan.

Korkie was killed when United States Special Forces attempted to rescue American journalist Luke Somers from al-Qaeda in Yemen while Werner Groenewald and his teenage son and daughter were killed by a car bomb in the Afghan capital, allegedly at the hands of the Taliban.

Korkie's body arrived back in South Africa this week after more than 18 months in captivity.

Today his friends and family will bid him farewell in a special memorial service.

The service is due to begin later this morning and will be addressed by Korkie's wife Yolande who was released by al-Qaeda in January.

The Korkie family and friends who had raised nearly R2 million as a facilitation fee to secure his release will also be in attendance and further details of the plan to get him released could emerge.

At the same time, the Groenewald family will also be honoured with a special service in Moreleta Park.

That's where Werner, a South African aid worker, served as a preacher before he left with his wife and two children to work in war-torn Afghanistan.


Korkie's friends and family are understood to have travelled from across the country to attend the service, which will be followed by a private burial.

His sister Lesley travelled from Port Elizabeth earlier this week, after having a private service there.

But the 53-year-old's ailing mother is understood to be confined to a wheelchair and will not be able to make the trip.

She told the family spokesperson that her heart has been broken because she can't be at her son's burial, but a live video stream will be set up to broadcast the service directly to her Port Elizabeth home.

Among those also expected are several sportspeople who went to Grey College where Korkie taught, and some of the athlete's he coached during his time here.

The Gift of the Givers Foundation, who secured his wife's release, will also be at the service.

Image: Vumani Mkhize/EWN