Neighbours of the Mdlalose’s Tavern in Orlando East, Soweto, where 15 people were massacred in the early hours of Sunday morning, have painted a picture of a community riddled with gun violence and a lack of policing.
A father of three spoke to City Press on condition of anonymity. He said he heard numerous gunshots at about midnight, and it sounded like heavy machine guns were used.
He said he rushed to the tavern soon after the shooting to see if his younger brother was among the casualties.
“My younger brother told me he would be drinking there the previous night, so I was among the first people to arrive after the shooting to see if he was in the crowd. Thankfully, he was not. He left the tavern an hour before the incident took place.”
The father added that he took two people to the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital with his car.
“It was a very scary thing to see, but I had to have courage and try to save the lives of those I could see were seriously wounded. Unfortunately, the two people I took to hospital died this morning.”
He said the men he took to the hospital were between the ages of 25 and 30 and lived close to the tavern.
“They grew up right in front of me and I used to work with their parents. They were wounded quite badly on the chest but I was hopeful their lives would be saved.”
He explained that the incident happened at the backdrop of the community mourning after two people were recently found dead in an open field. It is believed that they were patrons of the same tavern.
“This is the first time that a shooting has happened at this scale, but someone is killed in this community almost every weekend. You never see the police in our community. I have not seen a police van patrolling here in many years.”
He added that there was no visible sense of law enforcement in the community, whose cries to the ward councillor about community policing forums (CPF) have fallen on deaf ears.
One of the leaders of Soweto Parliament and Operation Dudula, Thokozani Shoba, said the incident resulted from the government’s failure to equip CPF members with the resources they needed to assist the police in fighting crime.
“If the community had CPFs, this would not have happened as easily as it did because they would have reported suspicious activities to the police,” he said.
Gauteng Police Commissioner Elias Mawela said the unknown gunmen randomly opened fire at the patrons.
“It happened at around 12:30 this morning. Unfortunately, 12 died on the scene, one died on arrival at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital and another also died after admission.”
At the time of publishing, the death toll rose to 15.