Tavern shooting: 130 AK-47 spent cartridges collected at Mdlalose Tavern in Soweto, says Cele

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Fifteen people were shot and killed after gunmen stormed Mdlalose Tavern, a popular gathering spot in Nomzamo informal settlement in Orlando East.
Fifteen people were shot and killed after gunmen stormed Mdlalose Tavern, a popular gathering spot in Nomzamo informal settlement in Orlando East.
Ntwaagae Seleka/News24
  • Police Minister Bheki Cele visited Orlando East in Soweto where 15 people were gunned down at Mdlalose Tavern over the weekend.
  • He said more than 130 AK-47 spent cartridges were collected from the scene at Mdlalose Tavern.
  • A community leader who addressed the community before Cele arrived said unemployed young people often went to taverns because they have no other alternative.

"We had a bloody weekend as a country." 

So said Police Minister Bheki Cele while addressing the media outside Mdlalose Tavern in Nomzamo, Orlando East, on Monday where 15 people were shot dead on Saturday night. 

Bloodstains could still be seen at the tavern and empty beer bottles were scattered outside. The tavern's steel door was riddled with bullet holes.

Cele was accompanied by Johannesburg Mayor Mpho Phalatse and Gauteng Community Safety MEC Faith Mazibuko in his visit to the area on Monday.

The minister said, apart from the 15 patrons killed in Soweto, two others had been shot dead in Katlehong, four in Pietermaritzburg, two in Inanda, and two in Duncan Village in East London.

"It was a bloody weekend. There is a thinking that it was a coordinated event. We don’t have that information. We have separate issues. The Pietermaritzburg, Katlehong and Nomzamo killings took place in taverns. We believe they coincided rather than coordinated.

"We don’t believe that it was terrorism. It was brutal and violent criminality. We will have to have some evidence to confirm that it was terrorism.

"We don’t believe it is terrorism.”

Cele said more than 130 AK-47 cartridges were collected from the scene at Mdlalose Tavern.

He added that there were suspicions that five people armed with three AK-47s had launched the attack.

"It was a group of people involved. We will find their motive when we find them. They intended to come here and do the damage they did."

Cele promised that members of the Tactical Response Team would conduct a door-to-door operation looking for unlicenced firearms.

"We are going to deploy TRT members to patrol this area. They will be here from tonight. They won’t be removed from here until they complete their task. Their presence will be felt. We want to saturate all the streets here and take them over."

'People were killed when they were having fun'

He said the gunmen had gone to Mdlalose Tavern with one purpose - to kill people.

"They were there with one purpose, to kill. It was an emotional scene. People were killed when they were having fun.

"We don’t know what angered the killers to commit such a horrendous crime. We will find out why they committed such a crime. It was such brutality. What we know is that there were five people involved.

"They arrived in a Toyota Quantum."

Cele guaranteed residents that the culprits would be arrested. He also promised to increase the number of police officers on the ground.

Just before he could address residents, a community leader lambasted government leaders for their failure to act on promises they had made when they visited various areas at election time.

"Every time the government has beautiful policies and plans on documents, but when it comes to action, there is nothing.

Tim Thema said: 

Our government is failing us, dismally so. Before 1 November last year, all political parties were roaming around Nomzamo asking for votes, because they know they are talking to those who are vulnerable. It can't be. It is so sad.

"We need to be honest with our communities about these things.

"Young people have matriculated here in Nomzamo. What are they doing? Nothing. They decide to go to nyaope or taverns because they have no alternative," Thema added.

READ | Orlando East tense with large police presence outside Nomzamo tavern in wake of massacre

Thema also questioned the deployment of police officers to stations in Soweto adding: Soweto, it is time to stand up. Stop this thing of blind loyalty. Come... 2024, you must show the ANC government. They are failing us."

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