Kenilworth resident Judy Favish had just checked in at Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport when she heard the crack of gunfire.
Ms Favish, UCT’s director of institutional planning, was on a two-day layover in Turkey on her way home from a conference in Dublin when horror visited the airport on Tuesday June 28.
Three suicide bombers with guns entered the airport and started killing people. The death toll at the time the Tatler went to print was 36, including the bombers, but, with 147 people wounded in the airport assault, that number is expected to rise.
In a brief email interview with the Tatler yesterday, Ms Favish, who was visiting Istanbul for the first time, said people started running when the shooting started. She didn’t even get a glimpse of the attackers.
“People ran in all directions. I hid under a counter (when it started),” she said.
Turkey has been rocked by a number of terrorist attacks in recent months. On June 7, a bomb destroyed a police vehicle passing through Istanbul’s Beyazit tourist district, killing seven policemen and five civilians. In March, a suicide bomb explosion on the city’s well-known Istiklal Street injured 36 people.
The capital, Ankara, has also suffered a car bombing and an attack on a military convoy.
Ms Favish said there had been an extra checkpoint before entering the departure hall at Ataturk Airport, but otherwise the “mood seemed fine” in the city.
UCT spokesman Elijah Moholola said the university had made contact with Ms Favish and confirmed she was safe.
“We are relieved that she is unharmed and wish her a safe journey back home. Our thoughts also go out to the families, friends and colleagues of those who were either injured or killed during the attacks,” Mr Moholola said.
Another Cape Town man, 77-year-old Paul Roos, witnessed one of the attackers “randomly shooting” in the departures hall.
“He was wearing all black. His face was not masked,” Mr Roos told Reuters.
“We ducked behind a counter, but I stood up and watched him. Two explosions went off shortly after one another. By that time, he had stopped shooting,” Mr Roos told Reuters.
“He turned around and started coming towards us. He was holding his gun inside his jacket. He looked around anxiously to see if anyone was going to stop him and then went down the escalator … We heard some more gunfire and then another explosion, and then it was over.”
Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim has blamed the Islamic State for the attack.
Although many Western countries have issued travel advisories to Turkey, South Africa has not offered any official warning. However the Department of International Relations and Cooperation has recommended South Africans travelling to the country register on its South Africans Abroad platform.