A SOUTH AFRICAN woman who made her home in Edinburgh has been named as one of the victims of the suicide bomb attack at Kabul airport.
• Jeni Ayris, 47, dies after suicide bomb attack in Afghanistan
• Ms Ayris had only been in Afghanistan for a month and was due to return home
• Ms Ayris co-ran a cafe called Ndebele in Tollcross area of Edinburgh
Jeni Ayris, 46, who formerly ran the Ndbele cafe in Tollcross had been working as a customer relations manager for South African aviation company ACS Balmoral.
She was one of 12 people who died when a female bomber drove a car full of explosives into a minibus carrying aviation workers.
Yesterday friends in Scotland spoke of their shock. Restaurant manager Richard Kellett said: “She was a wonderful woman and a wonderful friend.”
He said Ms Ayris sister Patricia, a nurse who lives in Edinburgh, had been told of her death on Wednesday morning.
“Patricia is distraught. Jeni was her only family and she cannot come to terms with the violent manner in which her sister was killed.”
He said Ms Ayris would be missed by her many friends in Scotland.
“She was an amazing friend who could always be relied upon to help you out of any situation no matter how difficult it might be. She always had a great positive energy and a buzz about her.
“She was a great cook and loved entertaining, dinners and parties at her house were always great fun. She loved sailing and spent time sailing in the Firth of Forth and on the west coast of Scotland.”
Ms Ayris had been due to return to the capital this weekend. In a tweet written just two weeks ago, she wrote: “back in Afghanistan and wondering what lies before her this time?”
Michael Hodgson, 39, who is from the Netherlands, said she would be sorely missed.
“Jeni Ayris was a warm, kind and generous person with an everyday objective of helping everyone she met,” he said. “She had a positive boundless energy which rubbed off on everyone, making her loss all the more hurtful.”
When running the Ndbele cafe in Tollcross Ms Ayris became a well known figure in the community and offered a home from home to many Africans working in the city.
In 1997 the cafe supplied Nelson Mandela with South African food when he was in town for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Conference.
It was also popular with actors working at the King’s Theatre and served Alan Cumming and Sheila Hancock when they were performing there. The cafe closed in 2008 after Ms Aryis decided to sell but could not find a buyer.
Ms Ayris had been working in Afghanistan for just over a year as a customer relations manager for aviation firm Air Charter Services.
“She loved her job,” said Mr Kellett, a former army captain in the Scots Guards. “She would go out there for three months and come home for one. She was due to come home this weekend.”
In a statement, the firm said: “ACS/Balmoral is deeply saddened by the loss of the lives of some of our staff in Kabul, Afghanistan, due to a suicide bombing attack.
“We are in the process of notifying the next of kin and our main focus now remains with the families of the innocent victims who tragically lost their lives. Our prayers and thoughts are with them and all our staff remaining in Kabul.”
Islamist group Hezb-e-Islami claimed responsibility for the attack, claiming it was in retaliation for the controversial American film lampooning the Prophet Muhammad.