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People here go to taverns to watch TV: Sister of patron killed at Soweto tavern speaks

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Mpumi Chirwa, who lost her brother, said the danger in their area is worsened by the lack of electricity and people have to travel to taverns to watch TV and de-stress.

Mpumi Chirwa speaking to broadcaster Newzroom Afrika after she lost a brother in the Soweto tavern mass shooting. Picture: Screengrab/Newzroom Afrika

A SOWETO woman said they were not entirely shocked when they heard guns ringing out after midnight on Sunday because it is a regular occurrence in the area.

Speaking to broadcaster Newzroom Afrika, Mpumi Chirwa said her brother, Daluwonga Mluma, aged 54, was one of the 15 patrons of the tavern in Orlando East, Soweto, who were mowed down by unidentified suspects.

“It is not safe at all here. It is not safe at all. Even on Saturday, before this tragedy happened, we heard those guns, but it is something that we are used to, so we didn’t take it that seriously. It is something that we always hear. We didn’t know that our families were part of what was happening, that shooting,” she said.

Chirwa described Mluma as a “very loving, warm person, very hard-working”.

“He would do anything to make that his family was okay,” she said.

Chirwa said the families who lost loved ones in the tragedy are yet to be briefed by police on what could have led to the incident.

“There is nothing we were told about what happened there. There is nothing.”

Police Minister Bheki Cele was scheduled to visit the area on Monday and receive “a full report on the mass shootings that took place in the Gauteng province over the weekend”.

Chirwa said the danger in their community is worsened by the lack of electricity.

“Here, there is no electricity. That is number one. My brother would go there (to the tavern) to watch TV. My brother would go there to play pool. It’s not a place they would go to get some drinks, but they would de-stress there. There is no safety because there is no electricity. It’s always dark. You can imagine what happens around 10pm. Even at 6pm, people are already locking themselves in because it is not safe,” she said.

On Sunday, President Cyril Ramaphosa sent condolences to the affected families after two shocking separate mass shootings on Saturday and Sunday, which claimed the lives of at least 19 people in Soweto and Pietermaritzburg.

Masked gunmen, firing pistols at random, burst into a crowded tavern in Sowet, slaying at least 15 people between the ages of 19 and 35, authorities confirmed.

In Sweetwaters in Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal, assailants opened fire with a shotgun, killing four people and wounding eight others, also in a tavern.

“As a nation, we cannot allow violent criminals to terrorise us in this way, regardless of where such incidents may occur,” Ramaphosa said.

“As government, citizens and structures of civil society, we must all work together even more closely to improve social and economic conditions in communities, reduce violent crime and stamp out the illicit circulation of firearms.”

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