In their statement signed by SACC Acting General Secretary, Rev. Mzwandile Molo of the Methodist Church of Southern Africa, the church leaders extend their “deepest condolences and sympathies to the families who have lost loved ones and extend comfort to the communities at a time where there may be confusion and much anger.”
SACC members call on affected community members to remain calm and collaborate with the South African Police Service (SAPS), channeling “efforts to support the SAPS in their investigations by sharing any information about suspicious behavior that would lead to the prosecution of the perpetrators.”
According to a July 11 South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) report, at least 15 people have died after a shooting at a tavern in Orlando, Soweto.
South African authorities say “23 people were shot, 12 of whom were declared dead on the scene, while 11 were rushed to a nearby hospital. Two more were later declared dead at the hospital.”
In a separate incident some 500 kms away, four people were reportedly killed and eight wounded during a shootout at a tavern in Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal; two more people were shot and killed in yet another incident at a tavern in Katlehong, Ekurhuleni.
South African Police Commissioner, Bheki Cele, has been quoted as promising the deployment Police’s Tactical Response Team (TRT - Amabherethe) to assist local members of the country’s Police Service in a bid to identify the perpetrators of the July 10 attacks.
In their statement, SACC members have called for stricter alcohol regulations, saying, “As a country, the issue of the abuse of alcohol remains a major concern at all levels of society, and interventions around the sale of alcohol to minors, and the safety of patrons at such venues requires addressing.”
The church leaders however say that “these acts of violence taking place in taverns have less to do with the abuse of alcohol and more to do with the cheapening of life.”
They call upon church members to “extend their support to these families and in these communities through the ministry of prayer, and ministry of presence; while simultaneously engaging with various regulatory entities servicing taverns and nightclubs, around the issues of security and safety of their patrons, as incidents of violence and death should not become commonplace in our communities.”
Meanwhile, in an interview with ACI Africa, the SACBC Secretary General said, “The recent Tavern shootings over the past weekend highlight for us the real suffering that many people are experiencing in our country today.”