Mass shooting at tavern in Johannesburg, South Africa’s Soweto township, kills 15, police say

Mass shooting at tavern in Johannesburg, South Africa's Soweto township, kills 15, police say
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At around 00:30 local time on Sunday, a group of men arrived at a tavern in Johannesburg, South Africa, and shot 23 people, killing at least 15 of them. the police said.

According to the South African Police Service press release, 12 people died at the scene. A total of 15 are now dead, while seven victims remain in critical condition, The Guardian informed.

As the Associated Press reported, police are investigating a report that the suspected gunmen approached the tavern—identified by a local government official as being from Mdlalose in Nomzamo settlement in Soweto Township—in a minibus and opened fire on the patrons of the bar. According to the police commissioner, the number of cartridges recovered suggests that the gunmen opened fire inside the tavern, a claim corroborated by eyewitness accounts.

“[The gunman] He didn’t say anything and started to open fire.” a witness, who says the shooting lasted about 10 minutes, told News24. “My friend and others at the pool table spread out for cover. He sprayed them with bullets… Four dead people were lying near me.”

A national police spokeswoman said the suspects, who remain at large used rifles and a 9mm pistol in the mass shooting, in which police say people were targeted “at random.” As of now, the police do not know of a motive.


Officials load the body of a victim on a stretcher.

Ihsaan Haffejee/Getty Images

The initial investigation suggests, according to officials, that the tavern was operating legally and that all the victims were of legal drinking age. According to the police commissioner, many were shot while struggling to run out of the tavern. However, compiling a full account of the attack is proving difficult, as the tavern was dark when the shooting occurred and witnesses struggled to identify suspects.

The Nomzamo settlement is one of the poorest in Soweto, a relatively prosperous city on the outskirts of Johannesburg. A national police spokesman said the municipality has long been a source of difficulty for the police, as there is no electricity.

Thabiso Letlojane, 31, has lived his entire life in Nomzamo and saying The Guardian who was in the bar just hours before the attack.

“It’s just a normal pub,” he told the outlet. “It was very quiet at night… It just shows that no one is safe, especially in this area. People shoot all the time, every day, every night. You can’t sleep without hearing the sound of guns.”

Although South Africa’s murder rate declined during the COVID-19 pandemic, it spiked in the final months of 2021. On Saturday, police say another shooting at a bar in the city of Pietermaritzburg killed four people and injured eight others. Two weeks ago 21 teenagers He died under unknown circumstances in a tavern.

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