Two bar shootings in South Africa, in which the attackers appeared to have been shooting at customers indiscriminately, left 19 dead overnight from Saturday to Sunday, according to a police count.
In Soweto, near Johannesburg, 15 young people, including two women, were killed when several attackers opened fire on the crowd “who were having fun”, while in Pietermaritzburg (East, Zulu region) four people were seated by Men who opened fire were killed firing 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.
In Soweto, the largest historical ghetto in Johannesburg, southwest of the South African economic metropolis, the police were called at around 12:30 a.m. that night.
“When we got there we found 12 dead with gunshot wounds,” local police officer Ms Nonhlanhla Kubheka told AFP.
A dozen injured people were taken to the hospital, three of whom died there shortly after arriving, she said.
The victims are young, between 19 and 35 years old.
No information was available on the number of attackers. “They came and shot people who were having fun,” Ms. Kubheka, commander of the Orlando Police Station, the Soweto county where the tragedy occurred, told AFP.
“According to witnesses, they fired indiscriminately” before driving away in a white van, regional police chief Elias Mawela told AFP.
An investigation was launched and the science police were still on site at midday to collect all possible leads.
Hundreds of neighbors were herded together behind the police barriers, according to local AFP journalists. The bodies were taken away.
Only a small sign with the beer prices could be seen in front of the bar. Crying relatives tried to approach but were caught by the police.
In the Sweetwaters ghetto near Pietermaritzburg (east), shooting broke out in a bar around 8.30pm on Saturday, leaving four dead and eight injured, local police spokesman Nqobile Gwala confirmed.
“People were drinking in a bar and a car was parked in front of the bar,” the lieutenant colonel said in a press release. “Two men jumped out of the car, entered the bar and opened fire on 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 chosen one, dressed in a down jacket in the colors of the ANC, the historic ruling party in South Africa, puts it into perspective: “We hear every week that people have been shot at indiscriminately.”
The informal bar, a good twenty kilometers from central Pietermaritzburg, is in a semi-rural area, close to a car wash and a liquor store, according to an AFP journalist on the square.
These violent incidents come a year after the worst violence in the country since the end of apartheid, initially sparked by the imprisonment of former President Jacob Zuma, who was convicted of contempt of court and charged with serious corruption.
By July 2021, these riots, massive looting and destruction of industrial sites, mainly in Johannesburg and Kwazulu-Natal province (east), had killed more than 350 people.