(Soweto) Two shootings in bars in South Africa, in which the attackers appeared to have been shooting indiscriminately at customers, left 19 dead overnight from Saturday to Sunday, according to a police count.
Posted at 7:16am
Updated at 10:01 am
In Soweto, near Johannesburg, 15 young people, including two women, were killed when several attackers fired large caliber weapons at the “joying” crowd, while in Pietermaritzburg (east, Zulu region) four seated people were killed by men who opened fire indiscriminately.
The similar modus operandi intrigues investigators despite shootings fueled by gang violence and alcohol in South Africa, one of the most violent countries in the world.
“We cannot allow violent criminals to terrorize us in this way,” President Cyril Ramaphosa said in a statement. These violent deaths are “unacceptable and worrying,” he added, offering his condolences to the families.
In Soweto, southwest of the South African economic metropolis, the police were called shortly after midnight. “When we arrived we found 12 people dead from bullet wounds,” said Ms.me Nonhlanhla Kubheka, a local police officer.
A dozen injured were taken to hospital and three of them died there shortly after arriving, she said.
The victims are young, between 19 and 35 years old.
The exact number of attackers is not yet known. But “they came and shot people who were having fun,” said M.me Kubheka from the Orlando Police Station, the neighborhood where the tragedy occurred.
“According to witnesses, they fired indiscriminately” before driving off in a white van, confirmed Elias Mawela, regional police chief for AFP news agency.
An investigation was launched and the Science Police collected all sorts of leads.
According to local AFP journalists, hundreds of neighbors stood stunned and shocked behind the police cordon. The bodies were taken away.
Only a small sign with the beer prices could be seen in front of the bar. Crying relatives were picked up by the police.
In the community of Sweetwaters, near Pietermaritzburg, the shooting broke out at around 8:30 p.m. Saturday (2:30 p.m. Montreal local time) at a bar, killing four people and wounding eight, according to local police spokesman Nqobile Gwala.
“People were drinking and a car was parked in front of the black-fronted bar,” the lieutenant colonel said in a press release. “Two men jumped out of the car, got in and opened fire on the customers indiscriminately.”
Twelve people were hit by bullets. Two died instantly and two died in hospital, he said. The dead are between 30 and 45 years old.
According to Mayor Mzimkhulu Thebola, everything happened very quickly. No stealing, no talking or fighting. But the elected official, in a down jacket in the colors of the historic ruling party ANC, puts it into perspective: “We hear every week that people have been shot at indiscriminately.”
The bistro, about twenty kilometers from downtown Pietermaritzburg, is in a semi-rural area, near a car wash and a liquor store, according to an AFP journalist.
These attacks come a year after the country’s worst violence since the end of apartheid, sparked by the imprisonment of former President Jacob Zuma, who was convicted of contempt of justice and charged with serious corruption.
By July 2021, these riots, massive looting and destruction of industrial sites, mostly in Johannesburg and Zulu country, had killed more than 350 people.