A mass shooting at a tavern in Johannesburg's Soweto township killed 14 people and left three others in critical condition on Saturday night, Gauteng Poice Chief Elias Mawela told ENCA news.
Initial police reports show a group of masked men arrived in a minibus and opened fire on some of the patrons at the tavern.
The three critically injured and one other person wounded have been taken to Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital.
According to the Police Chief, the shooting so far seems random, and no clear motive for the massacre has been identified.
"Primary investigations suggest the people were enjoying themselves in the tavern, they just came in and shot at them randomly," Mawela said.
"Primary investigations suggest the people were enjoying themselves in the tavern, they just came in and shot at them randomly."Gauteng Poice Chief Elias Mawela
An investigation is currently underway with "detective teams on the ground" according to Mawela, initial reports have not shown any progress, and local police are asking anyone who witnessed the event to come forward and assist with the investigation and identification of the perpetrators.
So far, a witness to the Soweto tavern mass shooting told ENCA news masked gunmen opened fire and fled in a Toyota Quantum.
“All of a sudden they heard some gunshots, that is when people tried to run out of the tavern. We don’t have the full details at the moment of what is the motive, and why they were targeting these people," Mawela said.
On Sunday morning, police were removing the bodies of the deceased, stating that it seemed some of the patrons tried to escape from the scene and assist others, being shot in the process.
Initial reports show several high-caliber firearms were used in the shooting, the ballistic spread of the bullets coupled with the number of cartridges found at the scene suggests the shooting was being carried out by several people over a broad area, seemingly randomly.
“You can see that a high caliber firearm was used and it was shooting randomly. You can see that every one of those people was struggling to get out of the tavern,” Mawela told The Associated Press.
The names of the victims have not yet been made public, due to police efforts to first confirm their identities and notify their families.
"The age range is just an estimation from my detectives to say they are between 19 and 35 years," Mawela said.
Second massacre in weeks
At least 20 people were confirmed dead at the Enyobeni Tavern in South Africa's East London city on June 26, Police officials said. Two more people have been taken to the hospital in critical condition, according to local broadcaster eNCA.
According to local police, 17 people died at the scene, and three later died in the hospital.
A total of 35 people have been reported missing, according to a community list seen by News24.
The cause of the deaths is currently unknown, yet there has been speculation by locals that the patrons were either exposed to some form of poison, an incident that resulted in a large number being injured and killed in a stampede, or a combination of both.
This is a developing story.