At least 21 people were killed and 16 others wounded by early Sunday in separate shootings across South Africa during the weekend, as the country undergoes the worst wave of violence since the apartheid era.
Attackers randomly opened fire on people gathered at bars Saturday night. The first attack took place in Nomzamo township, one of the poorest areas of Soweto, a satellite town on the outskirts of Johannesburg. Gunmen arrived in a minibus cab and began shooting randomly at patrons with automatic rifles and 9-millimeter handguns, according to reports.
When we arrived there were 12 people dead, said Nonhlanhla Kubheka, chief of the local Orlando police station. No one was arrested. They came and shot at people who were having fun, Kubheka said. A manhunt for the gunmen has since been launched. Witnesses reported that the killers fled in a white van and that it took police as long as four hours to reach the area. The people killed were aged between 19 and 35.
In the township of Sweetwaters, 20 kilometers from Pietermaritzburg in the east of the country, the other shooting started around 8.30 pm local time, at a bar in a semi-rural area. Four bodies were left on the ground and eight wounded, according to local police spokeswoman Lt. Col. Nqobile Gwala. People were drinking when a car pulled up in front of the bar. Two men jumped out of the car, got in, and opened fire without aiming. Twelve people were shot. Two died on the spot, two more in the hospital. They were between 30 and 45 years old. There was no evidence that the two attacks were linked, she added.
In yet another tavern shooting over the weekend, gunmen killed two people and injured four Friday night in the Katlehong township, more than 25 miles east of Soweto.
We cannot allow violent criminals to terrorize us in this way, the country's president, Cyril Ramaphosa, said in a statement. These violent deaths are unacceptable and disturbing, he added.
Two weeks ago, 21 teenagers mysteriously died in East London, about 360 miles southwest of Pietermaritzburg.
In July last year, a wave of unrest, mainly in Johannesburg and the eastern province of Kwazulu-Natal resulting in more than 350 deaths and several thousand arrests broke out following the sentencing and jailing of former President Jacob Zuma for refusing to testify on corruption allegations during his 2009-2018 tenure.