Two shootings in bars kill 19 in South Africa

Two shootings in bars kill 19 in South Africa

UPDATE DAY

Two shootings in bars in South Africa, where the assailants appear to have fired randomly at customers, 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 assailants opened fire on the crowd “who was having fun”, while in Pietermaritzburg (East, Zulu region), four people seated were killed by men who opened fire indiscriminately.

The similar modus operandi intrigues investigators, even though shootings are common in South Africa, one of the most violent countries in the world, fueled by gang violence and alcohol.

In Soweto, Johannesburg's largest historic ghetto, southwest of South Africa's economic capital, police were called overnight, around 00:30. 

“When we arrived on the spot, we found twelve people dead, with bullet wounds,” local police officer Ms. Nonhlanhla Kubheka told AFP.

A dozen injured were taken to hospital and three of them died there shortly after their arrival, she said.

The victims are young, aged between 19 and 35. < /p>

No details were available on the number of assailants. “They arrived and shot people who were having fun,” Ms. Kubheka, commander of the Orlando police station, the district of Soweto where the tragedy took place, told AFP.

“According to witnesses, they fired at random” before leaving in a white van, regional police chief Elias Mawela confirmed to AFP.

An investigation has been opened and the scientific police were still on site at midday to collect all possible clues.

No conversation or fight

Hundreds of neighbors were massed behind the police cordons, according to AFP journalists on the spot. The bodies were taken away. 

Only a small sign announcing the prices of beer was visible in front of the establishment. Crying relatives tried to approach, but were picked up by the police.

In the Sweetwaters ghetto, near Pietermaritzburg (East), the shooting broke out at around 8:30 p.m. Saturday in a bar and left four dead and eight injured, confirmed local police spokesman Nqobile Gwala.

< p> “People were having drinks in a tavern and a car parked in front of” the establishment, explained the lieutenant-colonel in a press release. “Two men jumped out of the car, entered the bar and opened fire indiscriminately on the customers.”

Twelve people were hit by bullets. Two died on the spot and two died in the process at the hospital, he further specified. 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 historical ruling party in South Africa, puts it into perspective: “Every week, we learn that people have been shot at random”.

< p>The informal bar, a good twenty kilometers from the center of Pietermaritzburg, is located in a semi-rural area, near a car wash and a liquor store, according to a journalist from the AFP on the spot.

These violent incidents come a year after the worst violence the country has known since the end of apartheid, initially triggered by the imprisonment of former President Jacob Zuma, sentenced for contempt of justice and prosecuted for serious acts of corruption.

In July 2021, these riots, massive looting and destruction of industrial sites, mainly in Johannesburg and in the province of Kwazulu-Natal (East), had caused more than 350 deaths.