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The big story: Tavern shootings leave SA reeling

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As if things aren’t difficult enough, we woke up on Sunday to harrowing reports of multiple mass shootings across SA. 😔 At least 25 people were killed in four separate incidents on Friday and Saturday. The attacks come weeks after the tragic Enyobeni Tavern incident where 21 people, most of them teenagers, died under mysterious circumstances.

(Please note that there are some graphic descriptions in the following list. Sensitive readers may want to skip it.)

🔹Soweto: 16 people were killed and eight injured when gunmen stormed in and shot 23 people at Mdlalose’s Tavern in Orlando East on Sunday morning. 

🔹Roodepoort: Three men sitting around a fire were shot dead at the Matholesville informal settlement on Saturday early evening. An unknown gunman approached them and opened fire. 

🔹Katlehong: Three armed men shot two men in the head, killing them, at the Mputlane’s Inn tavern in Katlehong on Friday night. Four others were wounded. 

🔹Pietermaritzburg: Four people died in at Samkelisiwe Tavern in Sweetwaters, on Saturday night. Two armed men allegedly walked into the tavern at around 8.30pm and started shooting at random.

Motives haven’t been established, but experts believe that extortion might be behind the shootings. No arrests have been made except for in the Pietermaritzburg shooting, where two men were nabbed and later released

Police Minister Bheki Cele has been in the news for all the wrong reasons, with an outburst following the incidents. He’s also deploying the notoriously violent Tactical Response Unit or ‘Amaberete’ to Soweto. 

What’s the solution? Although South Africa has some of the strictest gun control legislation in the world, this is simply not enough. Former Western Cape top cop and member of Gun Free South Africa Jeremy Vearey called for the return of the specialised firearm investigation unit to help curb the sale and use of illegal guns. 

There is a push for an amendment of the Firearms Control Act of 2004, which would see the issuing of new gun licences halted. Government has since held back the amendment bill for further consideration.

SAPS said earlier this month it had destroyed more than 40 000 guns. 

SA is a wonderful country marred by crime and corruption. We cannot be held hostage by rampant criminality. We, and certainly the victims, deserve better than this.

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