For weeks we’ve been hearing about what they were going to say, and tonight we heard them say it.
Despite all the detail we’ve already read, watched and heard about the siege at the Sydney Lindt Cafe on December 15, hearing the harrowing accounts from the surviving hostages tonight brought the horror of that long day and night into sharp focus.
These are just some of the most moving moments from tonight’s major television event on Channel Seven’s Sunday Night and Channel Nine’s 60 Minutes.
You can read a more detailed account of the interviews here: Inside the Sydney Siege: the survivors finally speak.
1. Two young women shared a happy secret in the middle of fear and horror.
Harriette Denny, 30, was just a few weeks pregnant on that day in December, and she needed her colleague Fiona Ma to know. “It was a good moment in a bad day,” Fiona said of the moment her friend told her on a trip to the bathroom, adding that it made her more protective of Harriette. “I wanted her out of there.”
Harriette said she didn’t want the gunman to find out first.
“You didn’t want to have to tell him. You wanted to tell your family first?” Liz Hayes asked Harriette.
“Yes,” she replied.
“It was very hard, we had to beg for our lives,” Harriette said, recalling the moment she was pushed up against the glass when the siege began.
Harriette went on to describe the phone call between herself and partner George, which she thought would be their final conversation.
Read more about Harriette’s story here: Hostage Harriette Denny returned to Martin Place today. This is her story.
“He asked me if I was in the building and I said yes,” she said. “I didn’t think I was coming out.”
“He said he loves me too and that he’s waiting outside.” And he was.
2. The bravery of the youngest hostages was staggering.
At just 19 years of age, Fiona Ma and Jarrod Hoffman were singled out by fellow survivors for their extreme bravery. For some reason, perhaps their age, the gunman trusted them more than the other hostages who were trapped in the cafe. But he underestimated them.
Fiona stashed a mobile phone that she let the other hostages use on bathroom trips. Jarrod made it his business to appease the gunman when he had to, even lying when he was forced to read out the news reports of the siege to Monis and he knew the facts would enrage him.
Jarrod talked the gunman down at one point, when he was in such a state of rage that he was about to shoot someone. The gunman thanked him, “I was going to shoot you. But thank you, Jarrod.”