Local News

NC woman survives Kenyan mall attack

Posted September 22, 2013
Updated September 23, 2013

— An Elizabeth City woman was among the hundreds of people trapped in a mall in Nairobi, Kenya that came under siege over the weekend by an al-Qaida-linked militant group.

At least 68 people were killed and 175 injured in the two-day attack inside Westgate Mall by Somalia's
al-Shabab, which claimed responsibility for the attack that specifically targeted non-Muslims, saying it was in retribution for Kenyan forces' 2011 push into neighboring Somalia.

Bendita Malakia is thankful to be alive.

"You could hear them methodically kind of going from store to store talking to people, asking questions, shooting (and then hearing screams)," Malakia said Sunday via Skype., "Then, it would stop for a while, and then, they would go to another store."

The 30-year-old moved from Elizabeth City to Nairobi in July to work for a financial company.

Malakia remembers seeing the gunmen running in while she was having lunch.

"We stood up, and we started to turn, and then, we heard machine guns," she said. "Then, we started to run and there was a second explosion, which knocked us on the ground."

She and a friend found a place to hide.

While the ordeal was happening, Malakia's mother, Lue Malakia, watched the news, waiting for word from her daughter.

"I couldn't get to her," she said. "I couldn't make the wrongs right."

After more than four hours, Bendita Malakia and others were rescued by American Security Forces and the Kenyan army.

For the whole family, those were four hours that seemed to last forever.

"You could hear people that had been shot. They were in pain," Lue Malakia said.

"We were on the ground and easily accessible," Bendita Malakia said. "I think part of it was luck. We did a lot of praying in there."

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  • jackflash123 Sep 24, 9:17 a.m.

    "when one wishes to commit mayhem,terror and murder, they will find a way"

    That's an often repeated, rarely questioned sentiment b/c it has some pretty high profile examples supporting it and it makes sense logically, but research actually reveals otherwise. Research shows that most acts of violence are spontaneous and if thwarted, don't come up again. Remove guns from an equation and you remove the easiest, most instantaneous, most lethal method of killing someone else or yourself. So other methods don't have the kill rate, aren't as easily used, and take more time. You're much more likely to survive, say, a knife attack than a shooting. And then, there is a very low rate of a repeat attempt.

    I'm not a gun control freak. I'm somewhere in the middle. I believe in using solid arguments to defend whichever side we're on, though, and that's not an argument that holds up under scrutiny.

  • justcommonsense Sep 23, 7:26 p.m.

    What sophiemom fails to grasp is that it is not the availability of guns in this country or our Second Amendment right that could be the cause of such a thing in this country. It is the mindset of criminals,lunatics and terrorists that would be the cause.

    I don't understand why some folks do not get it...when one wishes to commit mayhem,terror and murder, they will find a way,person and place to purchase guns... at any cost. It happens all over the world everyday. It's called black market, out on the streets, in back allies.

    If they are intent, they will find a way. So why the desire to take away our 2nd amendment rights? Instead, enforce the myriad laws already on the books. It still won't guarantee 100% safety for all,simply because there is no 100% guarantee on anything in life except that we are born and then we die eventually.

  • jackflash123 Sep 23, 5:56 p.m.

    "In the real world, being a sheep doesn't protect you or give you a chance. A handgun is no guarantee, but it does at least give you a fighting chance."

    Hiding from what amounted to a guerrilla militia doesn't make you a sheep. It makes you smart, and more than likely, it increases your chances of getting through it alive. Ironically, the idea that a handgun gives you a 'fighting chance' is prescribing to a more macho form of sheepdom, one that makes you think you aren't a real man unless you go out like Butch and Sundance. Apply the same mindframe and plan of action to an inner city Black kid who would take matters into his own hands rather than wait (forever) for the police and no one touting the 2nd Amendment here would be able to shut up about what a rhymes-with-shrug he was.

  • M-Man Sep 23, 3:04 p.m.

    @bill15: I know... the gall of some people to distrust what is reported in the media! Should be downright criminal!

  • Lightfoot3 Sep 23, 2:14 p.m.

    "wake up to the real world" - sophiemom


    In the real world, being a sheep doesn't protect you or give you a chance. A handgun is no guarantee, but it does at least give you a fighting chance. This wasn't a battlefield, but rather a mall with plenty of places to hide and seek cover, and strike if necessary. My goal would be to get out of the mall, not take down all the terrorists. They were able to walk around in total control, but would be hunkered down if someone returned fire. Them having to go on the defensive gives victims a better chance to make it out.

  • bill15 Sep 23, 1:27 p.m.

    "I'm not sure how you don't find this question relevant wral, but I'll ask again, has anyone confirmed that this person was actually there?"

    I've seen reporting of rapes on WRAL.com where the commenters are doubting the veracity of the report when there are almost no facts to dispute, just a report of the event. These guys are a parody of the radical right. A very unfunny parody.

  • jhk0704 Sep 23, 1:13 p.m.

    Using US logic, Kenya would have every right to attack us just as we attacked the Taliban.

    Not even close but nice try

  • tarheelbabe Sep 23, 12:57 p.m.

    Bendita is a Harvard educated lawyer who has worked extensively in Kenya on behalf of her employer before finally moving there fulltime. While some the undertones of some of these comments are disgusting we should be concerned about any terriost attack especially when American lives could have been lost

  • Obamacare for everyone Sep 23, 12:52 p.m.

    She looks a little like Beyonce.

  • Ven Sep 23, 12:39 p.m.

    I'm not sure how you don't find this question relevant wral, but I'll ask again, has anyone confirmed that this person was actually there?
    NoTimeForStupidity

    fair questions I guess, but would love to know why you ask/doubt? Just out of curiosity....

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