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

At around 12:30 p.m. local time on Sunday, a group of men went to a tavern in Johannesburg, South Africa, and shot 23 people, killing at least 15 of them. said the police.

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

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

“[The gunman] said nothing 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 said people were attacked “randomly”. For the moment, the police do not know a motive.

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Officials carry the body of a victim on a stretcher.

Ihsan Haffejee/Getty Images

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

Nomzamo settlement is one of the poorest in Soweto, a relatively affluent town on the outskirts of Johannesburg. A national police spokesman said the township had long been a source of difficulty for the police, because there is no electricity.

Thabiso Letlojane, 31, has always lived in Nomzamo and Told The Guardian that he was at the bar a few hours before the attack.

“It’s just a normal pub,” he told the outlet. “It was very quiet in the evening… It just shows that no one is safe, especially in that 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 has plummeted during the COVID-19 pandemic, it has skyrocketed in the final months of 2021. On Saturday, police said another shooting at a bar in the town of Pietermaritzburg killed four people and injured eight others. Two weeks ago, 21 teenagers died under unknown circumstances in a tavern.

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