Outpouring of sympathy after New Zealand mosque horror
No South Africans hurt in attacks
As stunned New Zealanders mourned the 49 Muslims killed in the country's worst mass murder in modern history, officials in Pretoria said no South Africans were believed to be among the casualties.
Department of international relations & co-operation spokesperson Ndivhuwo Mabaya said the department was in touch with South African officials in New Zealand.
"Up to now no report has been received through our high commissioner office of any South African injured or killed in the New Zealand attack," he said.
Suspected white supremacist Brenton Tarrant, 28, an Australian, was charged with murder yesterday in connection with the killings at two mosques during Friday prayers.
The shooter filmed the massacre, which was live-streamed on Facebook and then disseminated on other platforms.
Stories are emerging of heroism shown by victims of the attacks in which at least 39 people were wounded, including a two-year-old boy and a four-year-old girl.
Among those who died was an Afghan man, thought to be in his 60s or 70s, who reportedly ran into the line of fire to save fellow worshippers at the Al Noor mosque in central Christchurch.
Daoud Nabi had lived in New Zealand for more than 40 years after fleeing Afghanistan as a refugee in the late 1970s, and believed his adopted home to be a "slice of paradise", his son Omar said. Omar learnt his father had died while trying to shield someone else from a bullet.
"He jumped in the firing line to save somebody else's life and he has passed away."
Another of Nabi's sons, Yama, was on the way to the mosque when he bumped into a friend outside who told him, "Your father saved my life, your father saved my life," according to Australian newspaper The Age.
It wasn't until Yama watched the gunman's video of the rampage a second time and saw his father lying dead on his back that he realised he had not escaped.
There were reports on social media that Nabi had opened the door to the terrorist, greeting him with the words "Hello, brother."
Kiwis have responded to the massacre with an outpouring of support - crowdfunding millions of dollars, donating halal food and even offering to accompany local Muslims now scared to walk the streets.
In a suburb of Christchurch close to where the shootings took place, Yoti Ioannou and his wife posted an appeal on Facebook for locals to donate halal food.
Their idea was to provide meals for the dozens of desperate relatives waiting at the city's hospitals for news of their loved ones as surgeons battled to save lives.
The halal food drive was inundated, they said, with lines of people queuing up to give meals throughout yesterday.
Ioannou said so much food was donated that they had to put a fresh call out saying no more was needed.
Across the country New Zealanders dug deep - the two most prominent crowdfunding campaigns between them raised more than NZ$3.2m (about R31.6m) within 24 hours of the shootings.
Others put out offers of help and support for local Muslims who might be afraid of leaving their houses.
In one Facebook post, Wellington resident Lianess Howard wrote: "If any Muslim women in Wellington feel unsafe right now - I will walk with you, wait at the bus stop with you, I'll sit on the bus with you, or walk with you while you do the groceries."
Others came to the police cordons to show support.
Wendy and Andy Johnson said they had clipped a silver fern, a national symbol, from their garden to place with the growing bunches of flowers left at the massacre site, "just to let all our Muslim community know that our hearts are breaking for them today and we stand with them in solidarity".
"They have a goddamn right to pray how they want to in our city without judgment or murder. It's just appalling this has happened in our city," the Johnsons said.
Tarrant stood largely impassive in the dock yesterday, wearing handcuffs and a white prison smock, as the judge read the first of what are expected to be a host of murder charges he is likely to face.
Flanked by armed police, the former personal fitness trainer gestured an upside-down "OK" - a symbol used by white power groups worldwide.