Church Street bomb-20 May 1983

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Church Street bomb

Pretoria

May 20 A silent re-memory that is close to my heart

May 20, 1983, On Friday afternoon at half past 5, ń powerful car bomb exploded outside the Nedbank Square in Church Street West Pretoria.

The car bomb was set by Umkhonto we Sizwe, the military wing of the ANC, and 40 kg of explosives were used. The target was the South African Air Force which used most of the offices in the Air Force Building where the car bomb was planted.

The bomb was set for Friday afternoon rush hour which caused several civilians on their way home to also be killed or injured in the blast.

The car bomb goes off about 10 minutes earlier than planned and the two MK members who planted the bomb also die.

19 people were killed and 217 were injured. At least twenty ambulances were needed to transport the dead and wounded. Shockwaves over the gruesomeness of the attack jolted the country to a standstill. Helpers ghost to save lives and calm bystanders. People are disabled for life and traumatised after the bombing.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission heard in 1997 and 1998 that then ANC president Oliver Tambo authorised the attack. The attack was reportedly in retaliation for a cross-border attack by the SADF in Lesotho 5 months before the bomb blast in which 42 ANC members were killed.

Along the busy Church Street is ń very unnoticeable memorial stone, hard to find. Hasty feet walked across it daily without realizing what ń great tragedy had played out here.

May 20 passes virtually unnoticed every year. However, those who lost loved ones and those who survived the attack will never forget this brutal act on Friday afternoon, May 20, 1983.



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