15 dead in mass shooting at South African bar, police say
According to the South African police, a mass shooting at a tavern in the township of Soweto in Johannesburg killed 15 people and left others in critical condition. Police say they are investigating reports that a group of men arrived in a minibus taxi and opened fire on some of the patrons at the bar just after midnight on Sunday.
The number of cartridges found at the scene suggests a group of people opened fire at the bar, Gauteng Provincial Police Commissioner Lt. Gen. Elias Mawela said.
“The initial investigation suggests these people were enjoying themselves at a licensed tavern that was open within the correct hours,” Mawela told The Associated Press.
“Suddenly they heard some gunshots as people tried to run out of the tavern. We don’t have full details at the moment as to what the motive is and why they attacked these people,” he said.
“You can see that a large caliber firearm was used and they fired indiscriminately. You can see each of these people were struggling to get out of the tavern,” he added.
The area where the shooting took place was very dark, making it harder to find people who could identify the suspects, he said.
Rifles and a 9mm pistol were used in the attack, said National Police spokeswoman Colonel Dimakatso Sello.
In another incident, four people were shot dead by unknown gunmen at a tavern in Sweetwaters township in the coastal town of Pietermaritzburg on Saturday night.
According to police, two men entered the tavern and opened fire at diners indiscriminately, killing two people at the scene while two others were confirmed dead at hospital. Police said eight other people were being treated at a hospital. The deceased were between the ages of 30 and 45 and police are investigating charges of murder and attempted murder, police said.
“The team will be working around the clock to find and hold those responsible for this shooting to account,” said Kwazulu-Natal Police Commissioner Gen. Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa condemned the two bar shootings.
“As a nation, we cannot allow violent criminals to terrorize us in this way, regardless of where such incidents occur,” Ramaphosa said in a statement.
“As government, citizens and civil society structures, we all need to work even more closely together to improve social and economic conditions in communities, reduce violent crime and eliminate the illicit trafficking of firearms,” he said.
The bar shootings come two weeks later 21 youths were found dead in a tavern in the City of East London. The cause of death has not yet been released by authorities, but the teenagers were neither shot nor crushed during a stampede, officials said.