Friday 5th November 1999:

Shortly before midnight an explosive device, confirmed to have been a pipebomb, detonated inside one of Cape Town's gay night spots. The bomb was placed about seven meters into the entrance of the bar placing it virtually next to the bar counter. Police reported shortly after that six people were injured, three of which they described as critical.

The Blah Bar is frequented by mainly gay men and is situated in the center of the city's unofficial gay district which is residence to several other gay orientated and owned businesses. No group has thus far claimed responsibilty for the attack but the provinces Operation Good Hope, established last year to combat the urban terrorism which has plagued the city, is to oversee the investigation.

The bombing comes on the same day the Cape Times headed with a story about gay asylum seekers form other African and Islamic countries coming here seeking refuge from prosecution. South Africa has the world's most liberal constitution with respect to sexual orientation and it's about to enact legislation which will allow for asylum of this nature. This comes at a time when many African presidents have declared war on homosexuality in their own nations.

Last night (Saturday 6th) the district was relatively deserted with only a few regulars about. This time of the month usually sees hundreds of patrons filling the side walks of the gay cafés, bars, clubs and theatres.

Personal comment: To lock ourselves behind closed doors is to succumb to the wishes of these extremists. We should not allow this to happen. Fight for our rights to be recognised as full and equal citizens of this world. Do not allow a handful of religeous fanatics to deprive us of our right to be who we are. AndyO ©1999

UPDATES: 06/11/99

IOL Cape Times 07/11/99

q online 08/11/99 Gays March 14/11/99

'Apparent hate crime' condemned after explosion at gay bar 6th November 1999

Cape Town - Gay and lesbian rights groups and Cape Town's tourism, public and private sectors have condemned an explosion at a gay bar in Greenpoint in Cape Town early on Saturday which left five men and one woman injured.
The National Coalition for Gay and Lesbian Equality called on police and the Ministry of Safety and Security to leave no stone unturned in investigating the apparent hate crime.
"In South Africa, we live with a history of struggle against tyranny. Terrorism of any nature is unacceptable anywhere and more so when we as South Africans are working towards building democracy and reconciliation."
"The lesbian and gay community were aligned to this process and would continue to do so despite acts by reactionary forces on the margins of society," the coalition said in a statement.
Earlier police said they do not believe the explosion at the Blah Bar was linked to previous acts of urban terrorism in the city.
Captain Neville Malila, spokesman for Operation Good Hope -- a campaign established to fight acts of urban terrorism -- told Sapa the owner of Blah Bar in Greenpoint had not received a bomb threat prior to the explosion.
"Where these explosions take place, people are pre-warned, but the owner said she had not received threats or any other warning."
Malila said the bar was not linked to activities relating to gangsters or drugs and it was not thought that terrorist groups who rallied against these crimes would be involved in the attack.
Asked about the motive for the blast, Malila said it could have been anything -- including a disgruntled patron. The possibility that the explosion was a Guy Fawkes prank was also being investigated.
Cape Town Tourism manager Sheryl Ozinsky voiced concern that the attack might have been directed against the city's gay community. "We hope this incident is not reactive against the gay community in Cape Town because that is tantamount to bringing back prejudices of the past. We say that because the Blah Bar is a traditional gay venue," Ozinsky said.
Malila said police believed the device was set on a time-delay system because it was placed about six metres from the entrance to the building during the time the bar was open.
He could not confirm whether the explosive device was a pipe bomb.
"The bomb disposal experts combed the area and collected all the evidence. From there it will be sent for forensic testing where they will confirm the origin of the explosive device."
The device, which had been placed against an inside wall in the bar, detonated at around 12.20am.
The street was cordoned off as police investigated the area from 1am to 5.30am.
Surrounding night clubs in Somerset road -- well known for its gay clubs -- were closed early as precautionary measures.
Among those injured in the blast was the co-owner of the bar, Craig Gibson, who was treated at the Somerset hospital and later discharged.
A cleaner at the club was also injured.
Four patrons were treated at City Park hospital in Cape Town and Somerset Hospital in Greenpoint.
Glynnis Delenay a co-owner of the bar, said she will not be put off by the bomb blast. "This incident has not put me off. I won't be frightened," she said.
She said the incident was unexpected as the club was not linked to gang or drug-related activities.
"We don't deal in drugs, we don't handle drugs. We pay basic protection for security personnel, along with other business in the area."
Asked if she was paying protection money to gang lords Delenay said: "No. Nor have we been approached by them to pay protection money."
Delenay said it was still too early to speculate on whether the motive may have been linked to gay hate.
"The police still have to find a motive so you can draw your own conclusions."
Delenay said she would try and establish a fund for those injured to help pay for their hospital expenses.
While the Blah Bar carried insurance, Delenay was not covered for loss of earnings while the premises were being refurbished.
Delenay said one of the injured was still in the City Park Hospital in Cape Town with a broken leg while another suffered a severe foot injury. Another in Somerset Hospital suffered shrapnel wounds to the neck.
Cape Town Tourism manager Sheryl Ozinsky said she did not believe the incident would affect tourism.
"Tourism is resilient and we have seen it recover from other blasts in Cape Town.
"I don't believe it will affect tourism whatsoever but we want to sort this incident out very quickly. We have spoken to the police and Business Against Crime and the matter is being dealt with speedily."
She expressed her sympathy to the victims and their families. "I understand all but one of the victims have been discharged from hospital."
Cape Town had been relatively quiet as far as bomb blasts were concerned. The last blast was in Athlone when a car bomb detonated outside the police station in June this year.
"We hope this is not the start of a new spate of bombings especially with Christmas around the corner," Malila said.
By lunch-time on Saturday the area was still cordoned off with police in a Nyala keeping curiosity-seekers away.
From the outside of the bar -- the premises were locked -- no apparent damage was visible apart from two cracked window panes.
The Cape Town Partnership, a private/public sector partnership aimed at revitalising the city centre, in its reaction commended the swift actions of police in responding to the explosion.
"The police service have yet again demonstrated the determination and professionalism with their response to the incident."-Sapa

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Tourism also a victim of gay bomb blast
November 07 1999 at 11:22PM

Cape Town - The "senseless bomb attack" on a Green Point gay bar in the early hours of Saturday kept hundreds of patrons away from the city's gay district for the rest of the weekend.

The powerful explosion that ripped through the Blah Bar wounded nine people, not six as originally reported by police. The bomb used was a home-made device.

Police said they had no new leads and were no closer to establishing a motive.

Five patients were treated at Somerset Hospital, four of whom have been discharged.

One was referred to the City Park Hospital in Cape Town. Four other patients in City Park were in a stable condition, while the patient transferred from Somerset was in a serious condition.

Glyn Delaney, co-owner of the Blah Bar, said: "It's outrageous, shocking and senseless. Besides the huge financial loss, people have lost their jobs."

Three of her staff members were injured. Other staff members were treated for shock.

Delaney vowed to reopen the bar to prove a point.

The bar was bombed just days after it featured as an official venue for Cape Town millennium celebration parties.

Gay nightclub and bar owners see the attack as a serious blow for tourism. Justin Deyssel, owner of Angels gay nightclub, said nightclub and bar owners had felt the loss, and about 300 people had stayed away from his bar alone.

Delaney said the Blah Bar would be closed indefinitely because the place was wrecked.

"I believe the attack was against the gay community of Cape Town which, after Sydney (Australia), is considered one of the main gay venues for millennium parties. It is a serious blow for tourism."

Cape Town Tourism manager Sheryl Ozinsky on Saturday condemned the incident.

Mayor Nomaindia Mfeketo shared the same sentiments, saying the incident was a serious blow to Cape Town, which was busy inviting tourists for millennium celebrations. - The Cape Times - Gasant Abarder

©Independent Online

Gay bar bomb 'definitely home-made'
SARAH BULLEN, Cape Town, Monday 1.00pm

POLICE spokesman for urban anti-terror unit Operation Good Hope, Captain Neville Malila, confirmed on Monday that the the bomb detonated in popular gay nightclub on Friday night was homemade.
The bomb went off inside the premises of the popular Blah Bar on Somerset Road in Green Point at 12.20am on Friday when the area was teeming with people. Malila said that, while police are continuing to interview patrons in an attempt to establish whether any witnesses saw the bomb being planted, there are no leads so far.
Nine people, including bar manager Marnitz Vermeulen, waiter Ian Martin, a cleaner and co-owner of the bar, Craig Gibson, were injured when the homemade device, possibly a pipebomb, detonated. Most of the damage was sustained from glass and shrapnel from the blast.
Four other people injured in the explosion were on Sunday discharged from city hospitals, but two of the more seriously injured victims, who almost had feet ripped off in the blast, will remain in hospital for operations. Two victims were sitting at the same table when the bomb went off. The one victim's heel was torn off in the blast. Malila said that the bomb detonated behind an internal wall, which probably limited the damage to the bar and injuries to patrons.

© q online


Gays demand protection following blast

Cape Town - Protesters gathered outside the gay Blah Bar in Green Point, Cape Town on Saturday night to demand better protection for gay and lesbian people.
The protest followed in the wake of a blast at the bar last Saturday in which nine people were injured when a home-made device detonated at the premises in Somerset Road.
The National Coalition for Gay and Lesbian Equality, which staged the rally, called the attack a hate crime against the gay community and demanded protection to guarantee the cultural diversity and constitutional rights of gay and lesbian people.
NCGLE spokeswoman Josie Abrahams said earlier on Saturday that the coalition had received hundreds of messages from the public and organisations speaking out against hate crimes targeting gays and lesbians.
SABC TV news reported that Cape Town's mayor Nomaindia Mfeketo, speaking at the rally, condemned acts of violence against minority groups such as gays and lesbians.
The group said it would hand a memorandum to Minister of Safety and Security Steve Tshwete demanding better protection.
NCGLE staged a similar protest in Johannesburg at Champion's night club in Braamfontein on Saturday. - Sapa