South Africa: Govt promises swift action after at least 15 shot dead at tavern in Johannesburg

While 15 people died in Sunday's incident, four died in Saturday's tavern incident.

PTIUpdated: Sunday, July 10, 2022, 07:21 PM IST
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A body is removed from the scene of an overnight bar shooting in Soweto, South Africa, Sunday July 10, 2022 | AP/PTI

Johannesburg: At least 15 people were shot dead and nine others injured by unknown gunmen at a tavern in Johannesburg's Soweto township, police said on Sunday, the second such mass shooting incident in as many days in South Africa.

Speaking to the media after provincial Police Commissioner Elias Mawela confirmed about the incident, the premier of Gauteng province in South Africa, David Makhura, on Sunday said that swift action would be taken against the culprits.

It was the second such shooting incident at a tavern after four people were killed and eight more left critical on Saturday evening following a shooting in Pietermaritzburg in KwaZulu-Natal province.

While 15 people died in Sunday's incident, four died in Saturday's tavern incident.

Police Commissioner Mawela said the incident occurred at about 12.30 in the morning, with 12 people being killed at the scene and three more dying in hospital. Two other victims are critical in hospital and the others are stable after being treated.

"We believe that there must have been more than one shooter. At this stage we don't know what the motive for the shooting was, but I can say that the scene looks like the shooters came here with an intention to kill but randomly so," Mawela told news24.co.za.

"We will be working around the clock to make sure arrests happen immediately," Mawela said.

The criminals arrived in a minibus vehicle and opened fire without warning and with no known motive using high calibre weapons, said member of the executive committee for community safety Faith Mazibuko.

"You can't say it was a planned robbery, because they did not take anything. They walked in and shot randomly at people who were enjoying themselves in the tavern, which we verified through the Liquor Board and law enforcement agencies was legally licenced and was operating within its working hours," Mazibuko said.

Mazibuko said the increasing use of minibuses - thousands of which operate as taxis in townships - in criminal activities across the province have become a problem.

"We now want to work closely with the taxi associations to say they must have a database of who are all the owners and why are these (vehicles) now suddenly being used to actually commit crime in Gauteng," she said, referring to two similar instances of shooting from minibuses.

"It is now a very serious problem and communities also need to be vigilant. If you see a suspicious-looking vehicle, don't just keep quiet - call the police," Mazibuko said.

In the incident in Pietermaritzburg, two men allegedly got out of the vehicle and fired random shots at the people in the tavern.

"A total of 12 people were shot. Two people were declared dead at the scene and the other two died in hospital. Another eight people are still in hospital. The suspects fled the scene after the incident," Lieutenant-Colonel Nqobile Gwala of the South African Police told the news site.

Lucky Ntimane, the spokesperson for National Liquor Traders Association, decried the incidents at what he said were supposed to be places for patrons to socialise and enjoy their alcoholic beverages in a safe environment.

Ntimane said taverns also provide a livelihood for thousands of township business men and women and are an important component of local township economies, so the targeting of taverns is particularly concerning.

South Africans are reeling with shock at the incident, which comes exactly a fortnight after 21 young people, some as young as 13, died at a tavern in East London.

They were found slumped over tables or lying on the floor with their deaths suspected to be caused by poisoning, although no official cause of death has been made public yet by the government.

That tavern has been shut down and the owner charged for allegedly allowing young children in.

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