Police in South Africa are looking for 5 people suspected of being the gunmen who broke into a bar in Soweto, South Africa, and killed 15 customers after firing a series of shots with at least 137 bullets.
Nine other people were injured in the attack in the early hours of Sunday morning, which closely followed two other shootings in a wave of violence that shocked a country with one of the highest murder rates in the world.
“It was brutal,” Police Minister Bheki Cele told a crowd gathered at the scene in Soweto’s Orlando East neighborhood. “These people really came to kill and destroy. We don’t know why, but I guarantee we will find them.”
The high number of ammunition at the scene, 137 AK-47 rounds, meant the assassins would have to reload mid-slaughter, Cele said.
South African police in front of a soccer field in the Soweto region of South Africa — Photo: Siphiwe Sibeko/REUTERS
Cele has promised to send officers to Orlando East to do door-to-door searches and send more police vehicles – whose scarcity he acknowledged sometimes prevented police from responding quickly.
“We’ll see by their actions, because we don’t believe what they say anymore,” Andiswa Mnyembane, 37, a resident of Orlando East, said in response to the pledges.
“They (the criminals) go off like fireworks. The police take time to get here… There are areas where the police don’t even go,” he added.
A woman cries at a crime scene in Soweto, South Africa, on July 10, 2022 — Photo: Shiraaz Mohamed/AP
Around 20,000 people are murdered in South Africa every year out of a population of around 60 million.
There are about 3 million registered guns in the country, according to campaign group Gun Free South Africa, although many more are circulating on the black market.
Towns like Soweto were creations of the white minority government, which ended in 1994, but left a legacy of widespread poverty, youth unemployment and frustration.