, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 16 – Thomas Ndung’u and Paul Bunzi were on Thursday forced to relive the horrors of the September 21 terror attack when they testified against four suspects who stand accused of links to the crime.
Ndung’u who worked at the Ashley’s Beauty Parlour as a hair designer told the court how he got to the mall at about midday for a client appointment and as he waited, he witnessed the beginning of what turned out to be a four-day siege.
“I was on the second floor parking area where my colleagues and I would hang out between clients when we heard gunshots coming from the gate so we turned to look and that’s when we saw them,” he testified.
He described seeing two, “slim,” men with black scarves around their heads, green combat trousers and ammunition belts.
“One of them was firing into a car, while the other shot at a security guard lying on the ground,” he recalled.
But before Ndung’u and his colleagues could hide, one of the terrorists caught sight of them, “he lifted his right fist and addressing us shouted, ‘We are Al Shabaab,’ that’s when I turned to run shouting myself at those I came across that, ‘they are Al Shabaab.'”
It was this, and their slight build, that convinced Ndung’u that the attackers were of Somali origin but Bunzi did him one better, he testified that he actually heard them speak the language.
“I heard them communicate in Somali very clearly; they were not talking in small tones. As they converged at the basement entrance one guy was trying to go up and was called by another one and because I understand some Somali I thought he was being called back,” Bunzi testified.
Both Ndung’u and Bunzi witnessed the same events but from different vantage points; Ndung’u from a bird’s eye view while Bunzi watched them unfold right in front of him and it was for this reason that he could colour in the former’s description of what the terrorists wore.
“One had a maroon pinkish shirt, while the other had on a kind of greyish one. I remember one had a trouser with side pockets but it’s difficult to remember the colours because at that moment I was completely mixed up,” he told the court.
Bunzi who is the head of security at the Westgate mall told how he was at the generator with two guards, Bernard Opindi and Gerald Asena, when he heard two loud bangs followed by several smaller ones.
“There had been two power fluctuations just minutes before the bangs started and so I’d gone to see what was going on. Then when we heard the noise coming from the entrance to the basement parking I ran there with Opindi who told me it must be a transformer exploding,” he recounted.
It wasn’t. It was the very same two men Ndung’u testified as seeing, “I wanted to surrender first and foremost then I thought, no, they’ll kill me. Then I wanted to run but instead I went under a car.”
And just in time, as he later testified that one Maurice who was by his side started to run and was shot dead.
The hair designer and the chief of security, both witnessing the same events from different vantage points, both managed to escape with their lives but 67 others on that fateful Saturday didn’t.