In Soweto, near Johannesburg, 15 young people, including two women, were killed when several assailants opened fire on the crowd “who was having fun”, while in Pietermaritzburg (East, Zulu region), four people seated were killed by men who opened fire indiscriminately.
The similar modus operandi intrigues investigators, even though shootings are common in South Africa, one of the most violent countries in the world, fueled by gang violence and alcohol.
In Soweto, the largest historic township in Johannesburg, southwest of the South African economic capital, the police were called in the night, around 00:30.
“When we arrived there, we found 12 people dead with gunshot wounds,” local police official Nonhlanhla Kubheka told AFP.
A dozen injured were taken to hospital and three of them died there shortly after their arrival, she said.
The victims are young, aged between 19 and 35.
No details were available on the number of assailants. “They arrived and shot people who were having fun,” Ms. Kubheka, commander of the Orlando police station, the district of Soweto where the tragedy took place, told AFP.
“According to witnesses, they fired at random” before leaving in a white van, regional police chief Elias Mawela told AFP.
An investigation was opened and the scientific police were still on site at midday to collect all possible clues.
– No conversation, no fight –
Hundreds of neighbors were massed behind the police cordons, according to AFP journalists on the spot. The bodies were taken away.
Only a small sign announcing beer prices was visible in front of the establishment. Crying relatives tried to approach but were picked up by the police.
In the township of Sweetwaters, near Pietermaritzburg (East), the shooting broke out on Saturday around 8:30 p.m. in a bar and left four dead and eight injured, confirmed local police spokesman Nqobile Gwala.
“People were having drinks in a tavern and a car parked in front” of the establishment, explained the lieutenant-colonel in a press release. “Two men jumped out of the car, entered the bar and opened fire indiscriminately on the customers.”
Twelve people were hit by bullets. Two died on the spot and two died in the process at the hospital, he further specified. The dead are between 30 and 45 years old.
According to Mayor Mzimkhulu Thebola, everything happened very quickly. No theft, no talking or fighting. But the chosen one, dressed in a down jacket in the colors of the ANC, the historic ruling party in South Africa, puts it into perspective: “Every week, we learn that people have been shot at random”.
The informal bar, a good twenty kilometers from the center of Pietermaritzburg, is located in a semi-rural area, near a car wash station and a liquor store, according to an AFP journalist on square.
These violent incidents come a year after the country’s worst violence since the end of apartheid, initially triggered by the imprisonment of former President Jacob Zuma, convicted of contempt of court and prosecuted for serious acts of corruption.
In July 2021, these riots, massive looting and destruction of industrial sites, mainly in Johannesburg and in the province of Kwazulu-Natal (East), had killed more than 350 people.