Eight people shot dead at birthday party in South Africa | South Africa
Eight people were killed and three others wounded when gunmen opened fire on a birthday party in South Africa’s Eastern Cape province, local officials said.
Sunday’s attack is the latest in a series of shootings that have highlighted the country’s problems in dealing with violent crime and the increasingly widespread use of lethal weapons.
The attack was carried out late Sunday afternoon in Kwazakele, Gqeberha, at a private house by two men, a spokesperson for the South African Police Service said in a statement.
Local media reported that seven people – three women and four men – were killed almost immediately. Four others were taken to hospital with gunshot wounds, where one succumbed to their injuries.
The gunmen fled after the attack and no one has been arrested yet, police said. They are investigating the circumstances and possible motives for the attack. Police did not name the victims, but confirmed the homeowner was among them.
“These victims were killed by criminals, and we will not rest until we find out what happened and who was responsible [this] callous and cold-blooded attack on these unsuspecting victims,” said the Eastern Cape SAPS Commissioner, Nomthetheleli Lillian Mene.
South Africa has long been plagued by high levels of violent crime, one of many legacies of decades of rule by the oppressive, racist apartheid regime, but gun homicides have been rising year on year for a decade.
Four attacks in a few days in July drew attention to the problem. In the most serious incident, gunmen used automatic rifles and handguns to kill 15 people and injure a further eight in a mass shooting at a tavern in Johannesburg’s Soweto township on 10 July.
A key witness to the attack, in the Nomzamo informal settlement in the Orlando East neighborhood, disappeared last week and is feared dead.
Most deaths in these incidents were the result of personal disputes between individuals, experts say, but an increasing proportion of murders are the work of groups, including vigilantes, politically motivated criminal networks and organized gangs. Between April and the end of June 2021, 5,760 murders were committed in South Africa, one of the highest per capita figures in the world. About a third of violent crimes recorded each month involve firearms.
The continued inability of the country’s police forces to enforce the rule of law in parts of the country has led to fierce criticism from opponents and some allies of the ruling African National Congress, which has been in power since the end of apartheid in 1994. is.
Many say gun crime is part of much wider problems of governance and the rule of law in South Africa, which suffered during the nine-year rule of Cyril Ramaphosa’s predecessor as president, Jacob Zuma.
The shootings have reignited a heated debate on the reform of gun laws in South Africa. An effort to end the right to own a firearm for self-defense met with fierce opposition when it was contested last year.
Opponents argued the high level of violent crime meant that “denying people the right to defend themselves amounts to a denial of the right to life, security and psychological and physical integrity”, and instead called for better policing done.
Campaigners said there was no evidence to support such claims and that the new laws would help reduce the number of guns available to criminals and make everyone safer.