Shooting at bars in South Africa leaves at least 19 dead

Shooting at bars in South Africa leaves at least 19 dead

At least 15 people died and nine were injured after men armed with rifles and pistols fired on customers at a bar in the city of Soweto, near Johannesburg, South Africa, in the early hours of Sunday (10).

According to police, the shooting took place shortly after midnight at the Orlando East bar. The shooters, still unknown, fled the scene and are now wanted. It is unclear how many there were, nor the motive for the attack. The victims were between 30 and 45 years old.

Hours earlier, on Saturday night (9), another shooting, this one in a bar in Pietermaritzburg, a town about 500 kilometers from Soweto, left four people dead and eight others injured. The police spokesman for KwaZulu-Natal, where the municipality is located, said, however, that there was no evidence of a connection between the two episodes.

With around 20,000 people murdered annually — which implies one of the highest global homicide rates — South Africa is one of the most violent countries in the world.

Soweto, where the attack took place, killing 15 people, is the country’s largest municipality with a majority black population. The place was created during the apartheid regime and, without adequate investment and infrastructure, relegated a scenario of widespread poverty and youth unemployment.

In front of the bar where the shooting took place, hundreds of people gathered alongside the police, who were searching the area. “They just arrived and shot people who were having fun,” Kubheka, in charge of security in the Orlando neighborhood where the attack took place, told AFP.

The two episodes come a year after the worst wave of violence to hit South Africa since the end of apartheid and the arrival of democracy. In July 2021, a series of disturbances, with the destruction of commercial establishments and industries, left more than 350 dead and hundreds of prisoners while the country was still severely affected by the Covid pandemic.

The attacks come just two weeks after the country began investigating the deaths of more than 20 youths found uninjured at a nightclub in East London. The youngest of the victims was a 13-year-old girl.

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