A relative of one of the victims cries as officers refuse to let her cross the police barrier and enter the crime scene in Soweto on Sunday. AFP
Gunmen killed 19 people in two apparently random shootings within hours of each other at taverns in South Africa, police said on Sunday, reinforcing the country’s bleak status as a global centre for murder.
Attackers armed with rifles and pistols opened fire in the Orlando East bar in the township of Soweto in the early hours of Sunday, killing 15 people and wounding nine, police said.
“You can see by the way the bullet cartridges are cast around that they were just shooting randomly,” said Elias Mawela, police commissioner for Gauteng province.
Members of the South African Police Service inspect the scene of a mass shooting in Soweto. AFP
Sololo Mjoli’s two sons, Sthembiso, 34, Luyanda, 18, and were both killed in the attack at the bar in one of Soweto’s poorer neighbourhoods, made up mostly of metal sheet shacks.
“I’m so heartbroken,” said the 59-year-old gardener, adding that Sthemibiso’s girlfriend had arrived on the scene shortly after the shooting to find him still breathing. “Then he was rushed to hospital, where he died.” Bar waiter Thobani Mhlabiso said he hid behind the fridge to survive the onslaught.
“There was blood everywhere,” he said.
Police confirmed a second apparently random shooting hours earlier, at around 8:30 p.m. on Saturday, in a tavern in Pietermaritzburg, 500 km southeast of Soweto, which saw four people killed and eight wounded.
Officers said they did not believe the two shootings were linked. The killers from both incidents are on the run, according to police, who said it was not clear how many attackers were involved in either shooting.