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By Marizka Coetzer

Journalist


Tavern shootings: There is no law in South Africa

Community members say they don’t see a motive for cold-blooded massacre at Soweto tavern


At least 39 people were gunned down in three different tavern shootings this weekend leaving up to 21 dead and 18 injured.

The bloody weekend ended in Soweto where 23 people were shot, leaving 12 dead and 11 more injured inside the Emazulwini tavern in Orlando East, Soweto, in the early hours of Sunday morning.

Three of the injured subsequently died, bringing the Soweto death toll to 15.

The deceased were aged between 18 and 35 years old.

On Saturday in Pietermaritzburg, two died at the scene of a tavern shooting. Eight more were wounded of which two subsequently died, bringing the Pietermaritzburg death toll to four.

ALSO READ: Four dead at Pietermaritzburg tavern shooting – maximum police resources deployed

And on Friday night, four gunmen entered the Mputlane Inn in Katlehong on the East Rand and shot six people. Two died at the tavern and two of the wounded were taken to hospital.

In Soweto, police spokesperson Colonel Dimakatso Sello said it was reported a group of men armed with rifles and 9mm pistols entered Emazulwini tavern in Nomzamo informal settlement, Orlando East, and started shooting randomly at the patrons who were sitting inside.

Not far from the Soweto Towers, community members gathered in scores to watch as police investigated the shooting scene where 15 people died.

While the victims’ bodies were being removed from the tavern to the mortuary vans, police were confiscating alcohol from bystanders drinking in the street watching the scene.

ALSO READ: Soweto tavern killing update: Deaths rise to 15 as two shot in Katlehong

Zukile Silinge’s sister lived across from the tavern where the shooting happened. “I feel bad for my sister because her son died. He was only 18 years old. She is crying. They phoned me this morning and said I must come to look at the many bodies,” he said.

Silinge said he never went to that tavern because it was not safe there.

“I heard they have stabbed people in there before,” he said.

DA shadow minister of police and MP Andrew Whitfield said the South African Police Service (Saps) has been understaffed, under-resourced, and under-trained.

“In an answer to a parliamentary question from the DA, Police Minister Bheki Cele admitted since he became the minister of police the number of detectives had decreased by more than 1,300,
while a reply to another parliamentary question revealed that 20% of the vehicles allocated to detectives were not operational as of 22 May,” Whitfield said.

“During a recent oversight visit to a police station in Pietermaritzburg, a detective told me his case load is 280 dockets.

“No detective should have to carry such an overwhelming burden. It’s no wonder crime is on the rise in South Africa.”

Police at the scene of a shooting in a tavern that saw at least 15 people dead. The Emazulweni tavern in Nomzamo Park in Soweto, 10 July 2022. Picture: Neil McCartney / The Citizen
Police at Emazulwini tavern after a shooting killed at least 15 people early on Sunday morning. Picture: Neil McCartney / The Citizen

Whitfield said the fourth quarter crime statistics revealed more than 67 people were murdered and 153 raped each day.

“[The police] cannot afford less detectives, they need more,” he said.

Gauteng MEC for Safety Faith Mazibuko urged communities to be vigilant.

“If you see a suspicious-looking Quantum, don’t just keep quiet. Call someone.

“We need to zoom in and get to the bottom of why there were lots of these incidents,” she said.

Dudula movement leader Nhlanhla Dlamini said they heard the gunshots while patrolling but couldn’t find the location.

“It [crime] has been normalised. We live in a time where we don’t care about human beings, we take care of systems,” he said.

“Who is going to provide counselling to this community? No one. I know because a few months ago we were also shot at in a similar style with calibre rifles, killing one of our guys who died on the spot,” he added.

“It’s on to the next one. We are going to move on in less than seven days. By then something else has happened,” Dlamini said.

ALSO READ: WATCH: EFF and Operation Dudula clash at scene of deadly tavern shooting in Soweto

Pimville community leader Keabetswe Malebo described the shooting as “unfortunate”.

“We don’t know what the motive or issue is. It is not about cable theft, it is not a mugging, it’s just a random shooting,” he said.

Malebo said it was a regular occurrence.

“Communities are being shot at with high-calibre rifles. The community has been complaining about random shootings. Unfortunately, 15 people had to be killed for it to be exposed.”

“This is what communities cry about. We need to make noise about it.”

Pimville Community Forum leader and Dudula member Thabang Moloi said it showed there was no law in the country.

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