Lethiwe Makhanya
Journalist
3 minute read
15 Jul 2022
09:20

Father of Pietermaritzburg tavern shooting survivor describes the horror

Lethiwe Makhanya

Gunman allegedly held a firearm to his head on the night he was there to celebrate his 24th birthday with his friends.

The popular Samukelisiwe Tavern in Sweetwaters, Pietermaritzburg, where two gunmen killed four people. Photo: Twitter

A man who was shot at the Samukelisiwe Tavern in Sweetwaters on Saturday night can’t believe he survived after the gunman allegedly held a firearm to his head on the night he was there to celebrate his 24th birthday with his friends.

This was revealed by the father of the victim (whose name is known to The Witness) on Thursday.

The father told The Witness that he fetched his son from hospital on Wednesday and he is recovering well at home.

ALSO READ | Liquor licence for the Sweetwater’s tavern in Pietermaritzburg suspended

On the day of the incident 12 people were shot. Four died and eight were injured and taken to hospital.

Talking about the day of the incident, the father said that his son left home in the evening after he received a call from his friends who asked him to come to the tavern so that they could celebrate his birthday.

He spent the whole afternoon with his mother at home and left in the evening. He was not himself on the day. He looked so down that his mother even asked him what was wrong and he just said he was tired. After that he then received a call from his friends and he left. When he left the house his mother told him that she was not happy that he was leaving in the state that he was in, but he left.

He said just before 9 pm they received a call that he had been shot.

“A bullet went through his scapula and exited from the arm. But he is recovering. He told me that he does not know how he survived because the person who was doing the shooting initially held the gun against his head.

He said he does not know how the gunshot missed his head because he turned to look at the shooter and as he did so, the gun just went down and he was shot. He was just lucky.

The father said his son had frequented the tavern before, despite his parents warning him not to go there.

“What happened there is very painful. I almost lost a child and the owner has not even bothered to contact me, yet he has my number.

“That does not sit well with me. Was my child supposed to die before he could speak to me? So what happened to my child is nothing? He knows that his place is [very popular] in the area and it is always full. He needs to make sure that the customers are safe all the time.”

When The Witness tried to speak to the son he said he was still in pain and was not ready to talk about what happened.

I am trying to get through what happened and I am not ready to talk about it. I do not remember much other than being shot and everything went blank and I woke up in hospital.

On Thursday, a memorial service was held at KwaNxamalala Community Hall for the four people that died in the tavern attack. They were Nkosingiphile Nsele, Mdumiseni Ngidi, Simphiwe Mthembu and Nkosinathi Mdladla.

Family members spoke of their pain at losing their loved ones and said they appreciated the support from the community.

The mood was sombre and they asked those there to pray for them, so they could get through the ordeal of losing their family members in such a violent way. The funerals will take place on Saturday.