Home South African Ramaphosa calls for action following tavern massacres

Ramaphosa calls for action following tavern massacres

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President Cyril Ramaphosa told the country on Sunday that he will ensure that the wheels of justice turn at an expeditious tempo after two separate mass shootings on Saturday evening claimed the lives of at least 19 people in Soweto and Pietermaritzburg.

President Cyril Ramaphosa. File picture: Linda Mthombeni

By Brandon Nel and Ntombi Nkosi

PRESIDENT Cyril Ramaphosa told the country on Sunday that he will ensure that the wheels of justice turn at an expeditious tempo after two separate mass shootings on Saturday evening claimed the lives of at least 19 people in Soweto and Pietermaritzburg.

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

A number of videos posted online shows the dead and wounded sprawled inside and on the sidewalk.

Gauteng police commissioner Elias Mawela said he mourned the “senseless” loss of life.

“I am saddened by this senseless massacre of innocent people,” he said, adding that “we will work around the clock with our communities to gather information about the suspects and solve the case”.

In the calm suburb of 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.”

Ramaphosa added: “Every single violent death is unacceptable and worrying, and killings on the scale we have seen in Soweto, Pietermaritzburg and previously Khayelitsha must spur us into a collective effort to build communities and make South Africa an unsafe place for criminals.”

Meanwhile, Katlehong police are searching for unknown gunmen who opened fire on patrons at a tavern in Katlehong, Ekurhuleni. Two people succumbed to their wounds on the scene while four others were wounded and rushed to the hospital.

Zanele Hlatshwayo said that she was heartbroken after her brother, Sibusiso Hlatshwayo, 32, and a neighbour known as “Beans” were gunned down on Friday.

Hlatshwayo said she loved her brother and called on police to arrest the killers.

“I love my brother so much, I want you to come back, my brother was killed tragically and Beans died while trying to protect my brother,” said Hlatshwayo, sobbing inconsolably.

She was comforted by the owner and neighbours at the tavern on Sunday.

Neighbours said they are traumatised after the shooting.

The owner said she wanted to remain anonymous.

“This tavern has been running for over 20 years, there has never been a break-in or anything like this incident, this is the first time. Since Friday we are still in shock and the business is slow. We are selling to customers in a form of takeaway,” said the owner.

A witness and a patron also said she wanted to remain anonymous because she fears for her life.

“The incident happened very fast,” she said.

“We were talking, drinking and other people were dancing when a gun man opened fire, I did not have a chance to see the faces, I took cover under the table. I am sad that two people died, and these are people who are our close friends,” she said.

The neighbours said they are planning to host a memorial service during the week in remembrance of the two victims.

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