February 1, 2023

19 killed in mass shootings at bars in South Africa, one of world’s most crime and murder ridden nations

Authorities say gunmen began to fire “randomly” into the tavern. AP
Authorities say gunmen began to fire “randomly” into the tavern. AP

At least 19 civilians were killed in two separate deadly mass shootings over the weekend in South Africa, which ranks amongst the world’s most crime and murder ridden nations in the world.

At least 15 people were killed Sunday while enjoying a night out at a bar in Soweto, a township of Johannesburg, South Africa. Shortly after midnight, a group of armed men entered the bar and opened fire on its occupants, killing indiscriminately and leaving many injured as well.

Reports from local police indicate that at least 23 people were shot at the Soweto bar, 12 of whom died at the scene and 11 of whom were rushed to a hospital for treatment.

The tragedy follows shortly after a seperate mass shooting took place Saturday night further east in the city of Pietermaritzburg. Similar to the incident in Soweto, armed men entered the bar and began firing, shooting at least 12 people, four of whom were killed.

In 2022, Vision of Humanity assigned South Africa an overall global peace index score of 2.28 out of 5, where lesser numbers indicate greater levels of peace. The index assigns scores to countries based on 23 quantitative and qualitative indicators that evaluate their level of societal safety and security, their extent of ongoing domestic and international conflict, and their degree of militarisation.

While South Africa has a relatively modest overall global peace index score, its score in the murder category is an incredibly alarming 5 out of 5, indicating that homicide is an abhorrent and pervasive issue throughout the nation.

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime’s 2019 global study on homicide reported that South Africa’s murder rate placed it within the 10 worst nations in the world for homicide. It was reported that it has a murder rate of 36 intentional homicides per 100,000 people. The only African nation with a higher murder rate was Lesotho, a small nation completely surrounded by eastern South Africa.

While South Africa is not confronted with the same violent extremist militant groups that wreak havoc throughout the Sahel and the Horn of Africa, it faces separate violent threats of its own.

According to Freedom House, South Africa is the second freest nation in the continent of Africa. Yet, World Population Review reports that it has the third-highest crime rate in the entire world.

South Africa has an alarmingly high rate of assaults, rape, homicides, and other violent crimes. South Africa’s violence dates back to apartheid and many attribute its longevity to gang activities, widespread inequality, poverty, and wealth disparity.

As the nation of South Africa mourns those who were killed Saturday and Sunday night, its leaders are confronted with the ugly reality that occurrences such as this are far too common. As South Africa looks to honor the lives lost over the weekend, it also must look to the future and address underlying issues in order to prevent further tragedies.

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